Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Shoplifting, Detainment and Probable Cause

Shoplifting is a crime that plagues retail establishments all over the country. Essentially, someone can be charged with shoplifting if they took property within a store that they did not pay for. The defendant’s intention must be that he intentionally deprived the owner of the property taken. Depending on how much merchandise is stolen, shoplifting is generally a very serious crime and requires a good criminal defense lawyer to defend the charge.

A defendant can also be accused of shoplifting if he altered price tags, put goods into different containers in order to avoid paying all of the purchase price, or somehow otherwise manipulated merchandise to avoid paying for all or part of it.

Severity of the Charges

If you have been charged with shoplifting, the severity of the charge comes down to the value of the product. If the products that were stolen include incendiary devices, explosives or firearms, the severity of the charges increase.

Detaining a Shoplifter

Retail establishments must be careful when detaining a suspected shoplifter. Private citizens may not legally hold individuals against their will, and doing so can open the door to a wide variety of both civil and criminal liability for falsely imprisoning the defendant. However, store employees are generally allowed to detain someone when they have probable cause to suspect the individual has shoplifted an item.

What constitutes probable cause? Suspicion alone usually does not suffice. The employee must have evidence that would lead them to believe that shoplifting has occurred.

If you have been charged with shoplifting, please reach out to our team. We will look at your case, review the evidence to determine if you were, in fact, properly detained and if the store had enough probable cause to detain you.