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Shoplifting Defense

Top Tier Shoplifting Defense Attorney, Matthew Ruff

Call Matthew Directly For A Consultation 310-527-4100

Arrested or detained and given a citation for stealing? If so, it can be very humiliating and distressing worrying about what will happen when to get to Court. Surprisingly, most folks charged with shoplifting do not steal because they cannot afford the item, the reasons are often more deep rooted and complicated. Matthew Ruff is a lawyer with over 23 years experience helping those accused of this act, he understands the stress associated with these cases and does not judge, criticize, demean or try to be a counselor or therapist, he is only concerned with keeping his client's records clean and free from a Court conviction that can stay in the system for decades.

In many cases a shoplifting charge can be false because the person did not intend to steal. The law in California explicitly requires intent in order for the crime to be proven. The problem is many loss prevention personnel jump to conclusions for two big reasons. One, they have to justify their employment, if they are not making arrests they are sometimes looked upon as being lazy or not aggressive enough in protecting store assets. Secondly, nowadays it is big business and very lucrative for companies to accuse a person of shoplifting because they demand "civil penalties" sometimes amounting to $500 per incident. These "penalties" are pursued by contract law firms who aggressively collect the money on behalf of the store.

Case of the Week:

Matthew was retained by a client arrested for shoplifting at Whole Foods in Los Angeles County. She was a professional with a good job and wanted to keep her record clean. Matthew took charge and negotiated a DISMISSAL of the charges with the City Prosecutor. She was able to move on without the blemish of a criminal conviction.

Matt was hired to defend a client accused of stealing from Fry's in Manhattan Beach. The client was worried sick about how this would hurt his future chances of getting a good job. Fortunately Matthew was able to meet with the DA and discuss a resolution that would ultimately result in all charges being dismissed. In the end that is exactly what happened, the case was dismissed sparing the client from a scar on his permanent record.

Matt has one of the highest ratings on the Internet from sites such as Martindale Hubbell, AVVO, Yelp and other legal sites. Here is one recent 5 star on line review posted by a real client:

" I hired Matthew Ruff for a Serious shoplifting offense involving hundreds of dollars, I was charged with in late 2014. I was a nervous wreck as this was the first time I had ever been in trouble with the law. I had spoken to several attorneys who were doubtful that they could get my charges reduced based on the evidence presented against me, but Matthew explained to me that he was going to go to bat for me and do everything in his powers to make sure this stayed off my record- and he did."

He got my charges dismissed in exchange for community service & behavioral management classes- which I was told by my behavioral management counselor was "a blessing" and "not easy to do." Matthew was always responsive to my calls and emails, and was always able to calm my nerves- something that I could not put a price on when dealing with an awful situation like this. In addition to this, Matthew charged me a very reasonable fee and dealt with all of my court appearances and catered to my busy work schedule. I would absolutely recommend him to anybody out there who is looking for the best resolution for their case.

Most cases of shoplifting are initiated when a loss prevention officer detains a citizen and calls the police to file a formal report. Shoplifting is a crime of theft that can carry a variety of potential punishments. A suspected shoplifter is usually contacted and detained by store security after being observed taking merchandise from the merchant without paying for it. A commonly asked question by those accused of the offense is what are the potential consequences and how are they going to be treated by the criminal justice system and the Court? The answer to that question depends on what steps are taken by the accused shoplifter immediately after the event. If the individual becomes proactive and seeks the assistance of a local lawyer, the outcome can, and often will be very different than for those who do nothing and bury their head in the sand hoping it will all go away. As a criminal defense attorney representing clients accused of shoplifting and theft for close to 20 years. Matthew Ruff has the firsthand knowledge and expertise to resolve these particularly embarrassing situations and work towards obtaining a disposition that, in many cases, does not result in a criminal conviction that will haunt an individual for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, many folks make the crucial mistake of listening to well intentioned friends who have been arrested or "jail house lawyers" and other non-legal professionals who tell them to save their money and go to Court and plead no contest for probation. The long term consequences of this decision can be devastating. Employers are more and more doing exhaustive criminal records checks on prospective employees and consider a shoplifting conviction to be a serious act of dishonesty, justifying the denial of employment. A criminal defense attorney who knows the local customs and practices of the Court can often find an alternative to a criminal conviction, for example: civil compromise with the store, informal diversion, city attorney alternative disposition, conditional dismissal, infraction adjudications, reductions to non-theft offenses, dismissals due to insufficiency of the evidence, are all methods that can be utilized in a shoplifting case to mitigate the result. Mr. Ruff has been an innovator in finding ways to help his clients avoid a permanent scar on their record when cited or arrested for shoplifting. For example, in cases involving second time offenders he has, if retained soon after the event, resolved theft charges by implementing a counseling plan with recognized providers. In addition, he can go to Court for the client when necessary, thereby sparing his already fragile clients the embarrassment of a public appearance before a Judge in a open Court of Law.

Noteworthy Cases

Matthew was retained by a real estate agent arrested for shop lifting a bottle of perfume from JC Penney. The client was clearly distraught over the potential consequences to her license and job. She was embarrassed and thoroughly humiliated by the loss prevention officer inside the store. Matt knew how to handle the case. He set up a meeting with the prosecutors handling the case, presented several mitigating factors and potential defenses and they agreed to dismiss all charges upon completion of agreed conditions.

A frequently asked question regarding a shoplifting arrest is whether the District Attorney must have a videotape of the act in order to convict in Court. The simple answer to that question is no. A shoplifting case usually involves observations by loss prevention officers, other eyewitnesses and admissions and possible confessions by the accused. The good news is that an experienced attorney can often punch significant holes in the case to raise reasonable doubt in an effort to either get the charges reduced or dismissed in many instances.

When evaluating an attorney to defend you on a shoplifting case it is important to find a lawyer who has a track record of good results. Mr. Ruff has such a track record, in fact in one recent case he was able to have petty theft charges dropped for a client who had a prior less than a year before the current arrest in Torrance. She was distraught and suffering from severe anxiety due to the fact she was a teacher and was already getting letters from the licensing agency asking her to respond to the charges. Matthew Ruff took her case and handled the letters from the state, he further persuaded the city prosecutor in South Bay Court to dismiss the theft charge with no jail or shoplifting conviction.

In another shoplifting case the client was arrested at a Sephora store for taking approximately $300 worth of merchandise. She hired attorney Matthew Ruff who went to Court for her and negotiated a dismissal of all criminal charges so that the case would not appear on her criminal record as a conviction. Similarly, another client was detained by loss prevention and cited on PC484 shoplifting allegations in 2010 at an Urban Outfitter store involving close to $400 in clothing, she retained Matthew soon after the ticket and he went to Court for the person and negotiated a dismissal with the City Prosecutor so that the crime would not haunt her for the rest of her life.

What is imperative in all shoplifting cases is hiring a defense lawyer immediately after the person is released from custody. Matthew Ruff has been able to initiate contact with store counsel in many cases and negotiate what some refer to as a "civil compromise" wherein the client pays statutory civil penalties and costs to the victim in exchange for a commitment to not seek criminal prosecution. In one recent case the attorney was hired by a Los Angeles Shoplifting client detained at a mall store in Santa Monica. Mr. Ruff took vital steps to secure a release from the store's law firm in consideration for a nominal civil payment, case closed!

Another client was arrested recently at the Home Depot in Torrance, Matthew resolved the case favorably for the client.

One last example is a case where the client was detained in Costco in Torrance, Matthew worked out a Court disposition wherein the client could earn a dismissal of the charges.

Contact Matthew Ruff directly at 310-527-4100for a discreet no obligation consultation about your shoplifting case, his fees are affordable and he will handle the case personally, limiting the necessity of having to discuss the case with non-lawyers such as paralegals, secretarys and legal assistants. He defends cases throughout Los Angeles and Kern County, Torrance, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Palos Verdes, Gardena, Hermosa Beach, South Bay, El Segundo, Burbank, Glendale, Redondo Beach, Van Nuys, LAX Los Angeles Airport among many other Courts.

The attorney can be hired after meeting with him personally, or he can be retained over the phone, INTERNET or fax if the client is unable to come into our office in Los Angeles. Hiring a shoplifting defense attorney can be the smartest thing to do if you are concerned about how the incident will appear on your public record.

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