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Shoplifting: A Serious Offense

While a shoplifting offense will never rate as the crime of the century, it does carry with it some serious consequences and you should avoid conviction at all costs.  If you are an immigrant, shoplifting carries with it adverse immigration consequences because it will be considered a crime involving moral turpitude.

In Nevada, merchants have the legal right to detain individuals they believe to have wrongfully taken or damaged merchandise. Thus, if a merchant suspects you of shoplifting, he or she maintains the right to hold you until the police arrive. If the merchant has posted a notice informing shoppers of this stated policy and also has a plausible reason to suspect you of shoplifting, that merchant may legally force you to stay without being charged with false imprisonment, false arrest, unlawful detention or slander.

Although these laws give merchants a significant degree of authority in the detainment of suspected shoplifters, they do not guarantee criminal conviction. In fact, there are certain common circumstances in which you may be able to avoid an unjust shoplifting conviction. Such situations include:

  • The merchant fails to show up for the designated court date
  • The state fails to produce evidence in a way to facilitate a just and speedy trial
  • You or your lawyer manages to negotiate a plea, allowing for a reduced charge
  • In taking the case to court, you are found not guilty due to a lack of credible evidence against you

A skilled attorney, especially one familiar with the immigration consequences, will work to minimize or even remove the negative effect a shoplifting offense could have on the immigration consequences.  For those individuals who are not immigrants, a skilled attorney  will explore all of these possibilities, questioning the accounts of the merchant and any witnesses. If you are accused of shoplifting, your first action should be to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

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