Dothan Texas police arrested Laurie and Steven Baxter, both of Malone, Fl.,on charges they allegedly stole from a local store. Both were charged with first-degree theft of property, and Laurie Baxter was additionally charged with felony second-degree assault on a police officer. Loss prevention employees at the store detained a woman seen hiding items in her purse. Steven Baxter allegedly helped her escape with the purse. Both Laurie and Steven Baxter ran from the business. A patrol officer allegedly saw Laurie Baxter running along a ditch at which time she allegedly assaulted him in an effort to escape. Police did not say how the officer was assaulted.
Florida shoplifting and petit theft charges can be complex, particularly because these situations many times involve video surveillance footage showing one at the scene of the crime. Witness testimony can be particularly important in a situation like this, including loss prevention officers, security personnel, or store employees who will testify that one took an item. Finally, the item allegedly stolen might also be used as evidence against one if the object was found in one’s possession, such as in a pocket, purse, or car.
One of the most common locations where an accusation of shoplifting might occur is at a department store or bulk store, where groups shop, such as families or groups of teenagers. Juveniles are the first to be accused of thievery, even if the thievery never occurred. The following illustrates a very common and unfortunate situation where law abiding citizens are accused of shoplifting crimes:
A busy parent is shopping at Wal-Mart with their three young children. The parent is trying to watch the children while shopping and talking on the phone. The parent or a child, often a child, will pick up an item and place it in or underneath the shopping cart, eventually being covered up by something else, being lost from view. The parent pays for all the items they thought was in their cart; however, the parent is met at the door by loss prevention officers who accuse the parent of theft from their store.
Loss prevention officers at department stores are not police officers and do not care about whether one accidentally forgot to pay for something; proper investigation in the manner a police officer is required to do is not in the loss prevention officer’s job description. Normally the store will call the police who will arrest one unless one admits to stealing the items. The police will question the loss prevention officer, who works for the store and has bias to tell a falsehood. The police then question and possibly arrest or issue a notice to appear in court to the now flustered and scared parent.
In cases involving law enforcement misconduct or improper police procedure, law enforcement officers may attempt to cover up a lie or a crime by trumping up criminal charges against the victim of their abuse. Many times after a civil rights violation, the law enforcement officers will charge the victim of the police misconduct with obstructing justice or resisting arrest with or without violence.
In this case, there is an unknown as to Laurie Baxter’s additional charge of felony second-degree assault on a police officer. A patrol officer allegedly saw Laurie Baxter running along a ditch at which time she allegedly assaulted him in an effort to escape. Police did not say how the officer was assaulted. Many times, if one has angered a police officer after being accused of committing a crime and not wanting to comply with the officer’s demands, the officer will claim one hit or spit on the officer, which is an assault charge. Unfortunately for the accused, many times the court will be believe the officer, exposing one to a long period of prison for a crime that really never happened.
Fortunately, if one obtains an experienced attorney, one’s attorney will be able to challenge the evidence against one, including questioning witness testimony, questioning the conduct and manner of the arrest or search, or how evidence was processed by law enforcement.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: Florida duo face felony theft charges, Staff Report, Dothan-Eagle