Many people don't consider shoplifting a serious crime, until they find out that a conviction can lead to all sorts of punishments, ranging from a fine to community service to jail time.
This is why it's so important to fight back against a shoplifting accusation. There is never a good reason to go along with the charges, simply assuming that there's nothing you can do to better your situation.
If you're in a store and someone accuses you of shoplifting, here are a few important steps to take:
- Stay calm and remember that you don't need to say anything. As tempted as you may be to speak, to defend yourself, it's often best to remain calm and quiet. The last thing you want to do is say something that incriminates you and/or could be used against you at a later date.
- Know that the store or security officers can hold you at the scene until police arrive. While they are legally allowed to do so, they must have probable cause that you broke the law. Also, they don't have the power to forcibly hold you against your will.
- You can be slapped with a shoplifting charge even if you don't actually steal anything. For example, if you were acting as a "watch out" for someone else, shoplifting charges could come your way.
- Mistakes can happen. For example, a storeowner may think you were shoplifting when you actually had intentions to pay for the item. Don't hesitate to explain your situation and what went wrong, as long as it won't incriminate you in any way.
Although shoplifting is not always the most serious crime, it can have far-reaching penalties in the event that you attempt to steal something of great value.
Rather than look at shoplifting as a minor crime, consider the fact that it can be just as serious as robbery or burglary.
If you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of a shoplifting accusation, don't hesitate to review what went wrong, learn more about your legal rights, and decide how to defend yourself from the charges to avoid a punishment.