At Schill Law Group, we want you to understand the importance of knowing your rights. If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve been accused of shoplifting, it is imperative that you are aware of what your rights are and what you should immediately do after being caught. This could save you a lot of hassle down the road.
1: Shopkeepers Privilege
If a store employee has reason to think that you are shoplifting, they can detain you for questioning and to call the authorities. This ‘Shopkeepers Privilege’ says that they are allowed to detain you in a reasonable manner and time frame. If the store employee violates the conditions of this privilege, they can be held liable.
2: Mistakes Happen
It may be a situation where a store employee mistakenly accuses you of shoplifting, or where you simply forgot to pay for something on the bottom of your shopping cart. In those instances, calmly try to communicate the mistake and if necessary pay for the item you honestly forgot. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, follow the other items outlined below.
3: Remain Calm and Silent
Although Shopkeepers Privilege states that the store must have reasonable grounds to detain you, most store policies state that you must have been observed concealing an item or otherwise committing the act of shoplifting (such as switching prices between products) in order to be approached and/or accused. Typically, the person who observed you must have seen you pick up the item in the first place so that you can’t claim to have walked in the store with it already in your possession. Because of this, it is likely in your best interest to state your name and little else if you’re confronted for shoplifting.
4: Do Not Consent to a Search
If you have, in fact, stolen an item from the store, then you already know what the outcome of a search will be. This is exactly why consenting to a search will quickly turn into an admission of guilt. While it’s true that a store may let you go once they have their item back, this is a risky venture that may not pan out the way you would hope. The store personnel may even try to extend a search to your cell phone or your vehicle. Don’t consent to any search by a store employee or you could be incriminating yourself.
5: Request an Attorney
Always remember that an arrest is not necessary in order for you to request an attorney. At any point when being accused you can contact an attorney to advise you of your rights and how to navigate the charges to get the best possible outcome.