If you have been accused of shoplifting you can defend against the charge. A shoplifting defense attorney can review the surrounding events and determine whether the store owner, employee, or security guard had probable cause to suspect you, detain you, and conduct an investigation.
To lawfully detain a person the merchant must have probable cause, which is the reasonable belief that a crime has been committed or was about to be committed. Probable cause is a subjective standard, so some general rules have developed to guide merchants in establishing probable cause.
Observe the customer in proximity to the merchandise
Watch the customer select or handle the merchandise
See the customer conceal or carry away the merchandise
Maintain constant and uninterrupted observation of the customer
See the customer fail to pay for the merchandise
Detain the customer in or near the store
Stopping, or detaining, a suspected customer only must be long enough to ascertain that the customer possesses goods that he or she failed to pay for and to alert the police. If Sstore personnel handcuffed you or locked you in a room or handled you roughly, you may have cause to sue the store owner.
Why You Should Contact a Shoplifting Attorney
Consult with a shoplifiting attorney to learn about your options. A shoplifiting attorney also may be able to assist you in these ways:
Arrange for you to make restitution to the store owner in exchange for having the shoplifting charge dropped
Present defenses that the store owner did not properly detain you or held you for too long and failed to conduct a reasonable investigation
Negotiate with the prosecutor for your guilty plea or plea of nolo contendere
Argue on your behalf that there was no probable cause
Present evidence that you intended to pay for the goods
Prepare your counterclaim for false arrest, false imprisonment, slander, assault, or other causes of action the facts of your case may support
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.