What happens when you have been accused of shoplifting?
Shoplifting is a serious crime, with potentially serious punishments.
For many of my clients, these allegations are often simple mistakes like forgetting to pick up a small item left in their cart, or someone else was helping them scan and they overlooked an item. These innocent mistakes are something anyone could experience.
However, other cases are not so innocent. Common markers of shoplifting include switching price tags or placing items in a purse or backpack. Some are even caught at checkout because they were discovered swapping price tags in an aisle.
“These innocent mistakes are something anyone could experience.”
Store Policies and processes for Shoplifting
When a store accuses you of shoplifting, security or theft prevention personnel may request that you come with them to an office. If you are with someone, they will not be allowed to go with you. You will not be granted the opportunity to make a phone call to anyone.
This confrontation can be extremely upsetting and frightening, and often overwhelming.
During this time, the store’s security team may ask you to sign a form admitting your guilt and agreeing that you will not return to that location. Often, stores have a zero-tolerance policy. Corporations such as WalMart ban the accused shoplifter from the entire chain, not just the individual store.
Just like the circumstances surrounding the shoplifting case, motivations can also vary. Sometimes people shoplift because they have mental health issues and struggle to stop. Others shoplift out of necessity, taking food or diapers to care for their family.
how to protect your rights when accused of Shoplifting
The differences in motive, or if your shoplifting charge was a mistake can be key factors in your defense. However, whether intentional or not, you should never sign paperwork without retaining an attorney. Shoplifting can result in felony or misdemeanor charges, with punishments including jail time or excessive fines – even if the item was less than $1.00.
“However, whether intentional or not, you should never sign paperwork without retaining an attorney.”