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Accused of shoplifting? Things to remember

Would you know what to do if you're accused of shoplifting? Would you run and hope that you get away? Would you stay where you are, explain yourself and pray that everything works out?

Although shoplifting is not the most serious crime, it can still lead to a serious punishment. This is particularly true in the event that you are convicted of shoplifting an expensive item, such as jewelry.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you're facing a shoplifting accusation:

  • You have the right to remain silent. You don't need to become upset and start talking, even if a store employee or security guard is imploring you to do so. You don't want to say anything that can harm you later, so consider remaining silent.
  • Security officers and store owners have the right to detain you until police arrive. However, keep in mind that they must have probable cause and are not permitted to use deadly force.
  • You don't have to steal something in order to be charged with shoplifting. There are many forms of shoplifting, such as distracting a store employee so a friend can steal an item.
  • A mistake can happen. It's possible that a store employee thought you were shoplifting, despite the fact that this isn't the case. For example, he or she may assume you're trying to sneak out of the store without paying, when all you were actually doing was moving closer to the exit to view another item for sale. Sometimes, an explanation of what you were doing is enough to resolve the problem.

You should never assume that a shoplifting charge will result in nothing more than a slap on the wrist. It's possible that a conviction could lead to a fine, community service and even jail time.

Since there is so much gray area in regard to shoplifting, you need to know your rights and the steps you can take to protect them. There's nothing wrong with remaining silent, learning more about your legal rights and then implementing a strategy that will help you avoid a conviction when your day in court arrives.

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