Detained for Shoplifting? Know Your Rights.


Getting detained inside of a store or mall on suspicion of shoplifting can be terrifying.  Even though you may experience hostility and pressure from employees or security, you still have rights.

You must first have probable cause, did anyone actually see you take items from the store? They need to make sure they saw you physically pick up the item and watch you conceal it to be taken outside the store. In some jurisdictions, you cannot even be approached until you have exited the premises.

The people who detain you do not have the right to keep you confined in a small space. You are allowed to move about, as long as you are on the premises or under surveillance, if they have probable cause. At any time you have the option to request legal representation.

Cooperating is your best bet, some stores may not even contact the police and may ask you to just return the goods and never return. Keep a cool head, and don’t play the blame game—this can only create further hostility.

If you are carrying the stolen items, you do not have to incriminate yourself if police or security charge you; and if you haven’t already, make sure to obtain legal counsel. You have the right to remain silent until you speak with your lawyer. Make sure you team up with a Criminal Defense firm that can offer you sound advice, and fight for you in the court when the odds are against you.

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