More so today than ever before, stores of all sizes are keeping a close eye on everyone who enters. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that they don't want to become a victim of shoplifting. The more frequently this happens, the more money the store loses.
Unfortunately, with this in mind, it's not out of the question for a store owner or employee to accuse you of shoplifting when nothing could be further from the truth. Not only can this be embarrassing, but it has the potential to lead to criminal charges that will impact your life in many ways.
Here are some steps to take if you are accused of shoplifting:
- Stay calm: The last thing you want to do is scream at or threaten the person who is making the accusation. Doing so will only make things more difficult on you, and that's not what you need right now. Furthermore, don't lose sight of the fact that you are not required to speak.
- Know your rights: Although store owners, employees and security officers have the legal right to detain you, they must have probable cause to do so. Also, the use of deadly force is against the law.
- Mistakes can happen: It's possible that explaining yourself may be all that it takes to escape trouble and be on your way. For example, a store owner may have thought you were shoplifting, such as because you were getting close to the door with an unpaid item. Once you explain what you were doing, you may come to realize that it was nothing more than a misunderstanding.
Shoplifting is not the most serious criminal offense, but it can still impact your life in many ways. Depending on the nature of the theft, a conviction could result in a hefty fine, community service and even time in jail.
Don't make the mistake of thinking you can blow off a shoplifting accusation because this is a less serious crime. If you don't take it seriously, you may regret it in the end. It's up to you to take all the right steps, learn more about your legal rights and implement a defense strategy that will help clear your name when your day in court arrives.