Some theft cases, such as shoplifting crimes, are often seen as minor, but they can result in stiff penalties. This will depend on the evidence against you. Many stores have undercover police officers looking for shoplifters. However, many stores nowadays have surveillance cameras to detect and deter criminal activity.
You may wonder: Can this video footage be used against you in a theft or other criminal case — even if you did not explicitly consent to being videotaped? The answer is yes, but only as long as certain criteria are met.
What does this mean? First of all, the store must have posted visible notices informing customers of their presence. Also, the footage must be authentic. Video that has been tampered with to make it look like someone stole something is not admissible in court.
If you have been caught on video stealing something, you may argue that you intended to pay for it, and since you did not take the item out of the store, you cannot be charged with a crime. This is not true. In many shoplifting cases, the offender is arrested even before taking the item out of the store. Although the theft did not actually occur, the person could still be charged with shoplifting based on intent. For example, if security cameras show that you looked around before stuffing electronics down your pants, then you could still be arrested for shoplifting without leaving the store.
How is the Video From the Store Camera Used?
When a shoplifting incident is captured on camera, the footage can be reviewed by law enforcement or store security personnel. This video can be used as evidence to identify the suspect, determine what items were stolen, and build a case against the suspected shoplifter. If the evidence is sufficient, the store can file criminal charges, which can lead to an arrest and penalties.
But is monitoring a store with video cameras legal and ethical? Each jurisdiction has different laws surrounding the use of audio and video without consent. It is typically legal as long as there are signs and notices informing customers of video surveillance.
But even in the absence of legality, constant monitoring raises ethical concerns, as it infringes on a person’s right to privacy. Retailers must be reasonable in this regard. Cameras cannot be placed in restrooms, changing rooms, and other private areas. Additionally, the footage should not be used for profiling customers or monitoring employees.
Contact Our Austin Theft Crime Defense Lawyers Today
While a store camera can be used as evidence in a shoplifting case, it is up to the establishment to file criminal charges against the suspected thief.
Shoplifting and other theft charges may come with fines and even jail time. Get the legal help you need from the Austin criminal defense lawyers from Granger and Mueller PC. Our team provides the strong, swift legal representation you need when facing shoplifting charges. Fill out the online form or call (512) 474-9999 to schedule a consultation.