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Ask dkennedy Your Own Question
dkennedy, Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 6009
Experience:  J.D. degree, 15 years practice
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can you be convicted of retail theft in pa if you were not

Customer Question

can you be convicted of retail theft in pa if you were not detained at the premises? They saw license plate number as pulling away. Police were at my house two hours later asking questions and gave citation. The only evidence would be unknown camera evidence. Please advise thank you
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  dkennedy replied 8 years ago.



As long as the authorities have what they consider to be appropriate evidence (whether video, eyewitness, or whatever) they can charge you with the crime. Of course, whether you get convicted or not is another matter.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I have hearing at magistrate office this week. I was at store shopping. Left store drove home. Two hours later police officer showed up at my house. Said i stole item and the store theft officer ran out to stop me but i was pulling away. They apparently took my license plate number and called police. They claim to have me on security cameras. Not sure what cameras show but they could have old pair of shoes.They claim i stole pair of shoes and left old pair. My question is Can they convict me of retail theft just by using security camera evidence? Without having stopped me and caught me with the stolen item? and what is my best defense to deny it was me or to deny having taken anything?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
you still have not replied to the rest of the question please respond asap thanks
Expert:  dkennedy replied 8 years ago.

Hello again,


I am sorry. Sometimes the additional information furnished only shows up after we answer.


First of all, I hope you have not given a statement, nor said anything to the police or anyone about this. DO NOT talk to them unless you have a lawyer present. In a criminal case, the prosecution has to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that you did the crime they are accusing you of. You don't have to prove anything.


Through your lawyer, make them show the video. Cross examine the store officer. How does he know that just because you were pulling away, that you were the one in the store? Were there other cars around? Do you go to the store often? Sometimes people are "recognized" and picked out because they have been seen in the store at other times.


But, again I will say that they do not need to see you in person stealing shoes to charge you or convict you, if the evidence is enough. I am sure you have seen the "police" shows on TV where they show the video of someone robbing a bank and ask if anyone has seen that person. If they catch him, the video alone will probably not convict, but it will help. In your case, the video and the testimony of the store office might be enough to charge you with theft. I don't know what else they have to convict you. Fingerprints on the old shoes? Proof that they were yours? New shoes and tags in your car? Maybe they have nothing.


Your best defense is to just make them prove their case.