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What to do if you are accused of shoplifting

What happens if a store employee stops you to make an accusation of shoplifting? Will you know what to do? Do you know how to avoid mishaps that could cause you trouble down the road?

On the surface, shoplifting does not appear to be as serious as other crimes. However, you need to understand that a conviction could change your life in many ways. This is why you must understand your legal rights and the steps to take if you are ever accused of this crime.

Here are a few tips that can improve your situation in the event that you find yourself in this position:

  • Stay calm and don't feel like you have to say anything. Regardless of what's going on around you, getting angry is not going to improve your situation. Instead, it's best to stay calm, keep quiet and wait for police to arrive.
  • Know your rights. While a security officer or storeowner can detain you until police arrive, these individuals don't have the right to use unreasonable force. Knowing your rights will help you protect yourself.
  • More than one type of behavior can result in a shoplifting charge. Stealing merchandise is the most common reason for a charge of shoplifting, but there are plenty of other reasons you could land yourself in legal hot water. For example, you could be charged if you assisted someone in stealing something, such as by acting as a distraction.
  • You can attempt to explain yourself if you believe the store made a mistake. It's not out of the question that a store employee could mistakenly believe you were attempting to shoplift. If this happens, it's within your rights to calmly explain your situation and why there is a misunderstanding.

Shoplifting is a crime, which means that a conviction will result in a punishment. For example, a first time shoplifter may be required to complete community service or attend an educational program. However, repeat offenders or more serious shoplifting cases can result in a much more serious punishment.

If you are facing an accusation of shoplifting you need to know your legal rights, as this can help you avoid a situation in which you make things worse by something you say or do.

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