Walk into almost any store in South Florida and you’ll see the sternly worded sign by the front door or the register: “Shoplifters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
There is a reason retailers take such a harsh approach to shoplifting: it is estimated that they lose $45 billion a year due to theft. With that much at stake, you can be sure that any attempt to take advantage of the “five-finger discount” will be met with an aggressive and intimidating response by store management and employees.
If you’ve been accused of shoplifting and detained by store personnel, there are things you need to know and do in order to protect yourself from conduct that could violate your rights and lead to your arrest, conviction and imprisonment.
The three most important things to remember are:
Admit nothing. Sign nothing. Agree to nothing.
If you have been detained by a store employee or by a private security guard on suspicion of shoplifting, it is very likely that they will try to pressure you into admitting guilt. They may take you to a back room of the store, against your will, and tell you to admit what you’ve done; that if you just sign a written “confession” or admission, they will let you go on your way. Don’t believe them.
DO NOT admit wrongdoing and DO NOT sign ANYTHING that purports to indicate your agreement that you did what they accuse you of having done. If you do so, the store will probably call the police anyway and happily hand them your signed admission that you were in fact shoplifting. The police will then happily hand the document to prosecutors who will attempt to use that against you to obtain your conviction.
Instead, tell the store that you wish to speak with an attorney, and call an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. While store employees and private security guards have a right to protect their store from shoplifters, they are not the police.
There are rules that stores have to follow in order to make a shoplifting apprehension. If they violate those rules and your rights, you may have a claim against them. For example, if the store wrongfully detains you against your will, you may be able to sue for false imprisonment. Make sure you document your entire experience so you have a record of exactly what the store employees or security personnel said and did.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 28 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.