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Caught shoplifting? Here's what you should know

You went to the mall with a friend, and you checked out a few cool stores. You didn't think much of the trip and decided not to buy anything while you were out. Not long after you left the last store, security approaches you.

You're told that you'll need to wait because the police have been called. You're both being accused of shoplifting. You tell the security guard he can go through your things to check for the item, because you know you didn't take anything.

It's moments later that you're in shock because he pulls an item out of your pocket that you didn't put there. Did you forget? Did your friend set you up? Either way, you're now facing an arrest because the store wants to prosecute.

Shoplifting is an offense when someone willfully takes or possesses an items that is for sale but does not pay for it. The goal of a shoplifter is to take the item out of the possession of the store or shop owner without paying. By law, you can be accused of concealing an item and shoplifting even when you're still in the same store -- you don't have to try to leave with it.

When you're accused of shoplifting, you may face charges including low-level infractions to misdemeanors in most cases. It's typically up to the prosecutor to decide which charge to pursue. While you're waiting to find out what you're charged with, it's a good idea to speak with your attorney about defending yourself.

In the above situation, you would have a few different options for your defense. You can explain that you didn't know you had the item, for example. If there is a video feed in the store, you may be able to get a copy that shows that you didn't put the item in your pocket or that your friend slipped it into your purse without you knowing.

Another thing to know about shoplifting is that you cannot be held against your will while you're in the store unless there is probable cause to suspect that you shoplifted. You also cannot be held for an unreasonable amount of time or in unreasonable circumstances.

Your attorney can help you go over what happened and work with you to design a defense to your case. With the right support, you can make sure you don't face charges for a crime you didn't commit.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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