If you are ever accused of shoplifting, the embarrassment you feel and the pressure placed on you by the store employee or security can cause you to incriminate yourself or say something that can get you into even more trouble. Knowing how to act and what not to say after you are detained can help you protect yourself from false accusations or accidentally admitting fault.
Here are a few dos and don'ts to keep in mind, if you are ever accused of shoplifting.
Don't Argue or Admit Fault
Depending on the size of the store or the available security, if you are suspected of shoplifting, you will either be asked to return to the store after you exit or at later date. Larger department stores have security cameras and multiple guards. It could be several days later, but if you are identified, you may be contacted by the store or the police.
A security officer or a loss prevention associate will ask you to accompany them back into the store. Do not argue or attempt to flee, as this can make you appear guilty or the police could consider you a threat, which can lead to more serious charges. The security officer will ask you to sign a statement or attempt to coerce you into admitting guilt.
You are not obligated to answer any of their questions, including providing your name or address. Instead, wait until the police arrive and talk with them.
Don't Assume You Will Get Arrested
Depending on where you live and the cost of the merchandise you are accused of stealing, the police will either issue you a ticket or arrest you. For example, if the merchandise's cost is less than $100, the police may give you a ticket that informs you when to appear before a judge. If the cost of the merchandise is high, it is possible you might be arrested.
Do Contact an Attorney Immediately
If you are arrested on the spot or given a summons, it's critical to contact an attorney before speaking to the authorities. An attorney will speak to the police on your behalf if you are arrested. If you are given a ticket to appear before a judge, your attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim of innocence or help you secure a lesser sentence if you are convicted.
Shoplifting is a potentially serious offense that can negatively impact your life for years to come. If you are ever accused of shoplifting, don't hesitate to contact a criminal law attorney right away.