If you’ve found yourself accused of shoplifting, it can be an overwhelming experience. Being accused of a crime is a jolting, regardless of whether or not you did it. If you find yourself in this kind of a situation in a store, it’s important that you know what your rights are.
Here’s what you should do if you’re accused of stealing in store.
Get a Lawyer:
You need to make sure that you’ve got a good lawyer on your side if you’re facing potential criminal charges. Having an unqualified lawyer could result in them failing to do their job correctly, slimming your chances of a favorable outcome.
Therefore, the minute you’re accused, ask for your lawyer to be present. At any point after being accused even without being arrested, you can ask for your right to an attorney. Your lawyer will be able to guide you through your rights and the best course of action.
Don’t Let Them Detain You Over a Reasonable Amount of Time:
By law, a store can hold you for questioning while they call the authorities. However, this right known as “shopkeepers privilege” only allows them to hold you for a reasonable amount of time.
If they are holding you over an amount of time which you feel is acceptable, then you should know that they may be held responsible for violating your rights later on.
Explain Your Mistake If Applicable:
It’s very likely that you didn’t mean to steal anything at all. Often you may be accused of shoplifting. However you simply forgot to pay for it, or you mindlessly stuck it somewhere suspicious.
In cases like these, it’s important to calmly communicate the circumstances and offer to pay for the item. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of communication and being honest about your mistake. As long as you pay, many store owners will let the situation go.
Stay Quiet Until Your Lawyer Arrives:
Since you don’t know what kind of evidence they have against you or if anything you say could be used against you, you should try to stay as quiet as possible until your lawyer arrives. It’s always best to say less than more.
Don’t Consent To Any Kind of Searches:
In the case that you have actually stolen something, then a search isn’t in your favor. By agreeing for them to search you, you might as well plead guilty. So unless you’re entirely innocent, refuse a search and wait for your lawyer to get there.
Calmly and politely explain that you do not consent and that you’re waiting for your attorney to arrive to consult with before making any moves. By law, they may not force a search on you.