10 things you should never do if you are accused of shoplifting.
1 Never argue with store employees if stopped while leaving the store. If it’s a mistake just show them the receipt and go on your way. If they persist in keeping you there, don’t resist. This will only make things worse for you.
2 Don’t explain to them what happened. They won’t believe you anyway. Don’t try to explain yourself to any store employee. You have no obligation to explain yourself to anyone. And you may end up saying something you will regret. Or they may misinterpret what you say and use it against you. That is why it’s better not to say anything to them at all.
3 Don’t offer to pay offer to pay at this point. Even if it was a mistake, they will assume you are lying. The they will also say now that you are caught you just to pay and get out of there. Also if offer to pay it makes you appear guilty in their eyes.
4 Don’t give them any personal information. You do not have to give them your name, address, phone number or anything else.Since Store employees are not police officers, you are not required to tell them anything. But, If there is a police officer on duty he will identify himself immediately. Thus you must identify yourself to a police officer. But don’t say anything else to him.
Don’t sign any papers about the shoplifting
5 Don’t sign anything regardless of what it is or what they say. They cannot force you to sign anything.
6 Demand a lawyer, if they question you. If they ask why you need one if didn’t do anything wrong. Do not answer that question or argue with them. Just repeat your request for a lawyer. You have no obligation to tell them why.
7 Demand they let you go immediately. If they keep you in an office refusing to let you leave, renew your demand for a lawyer.
8 Do not answer any of their questions. Thus if they refuse to release you, continue to demand they let you do and and continue to demand a lawyer.
9 Never talk to the manager or loss prevention people. They will lie and tell you the evidence against you is conclusive and you might as well admit to shoplifting. This is a trick. Don’t be fooled. If the evidence is conclusive, they don’t need you to admit anything.
10 The store manager will tell you never to return. Therefore, take this warning to heart. Because if you get caught in the store again, you will get arrested for criminal trespass and face a jail sentence.
You may or may not get arrested for shoplifting
The police officer will not likely ask you what happened. But if he does you should refuse to answer and ask for a lawyer.
If the amount they claim you took is less than $100, a police officer will arrive and give you a ticket or citation. The ticket will order you to appear in court at a later date.
If the amount is more than $100, a police officer will arrest you and take you to jail where you will need to bond out.
By Andrew J. Williams, board certified criminal defense lawyer