5 Things to Do If You’re Accused of Shoplifting
Being charged with shoplifting is a serious offense that can have long-lasting consequences. If you have been falsely accused of shoplifting in New Jersey, you need to act promptly to enforce your legal rights. You need a shoplifting defense lawyer at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC.
While shoplifting is often considered a petty crime, some theft offenses can actually be charged as felonies, leading to a prison sentence of a year or more. You don’t want to go to court alone when so much is at stake. A skilled shoplifting attorney can build a strong case that refutes the allegations and protects your reputation and future opportunities.
Here are some tips on what to do if you’ve been accused of stealing from a store:
Don’t flee store security.
Before law enforcement is involved, you may be stopped by unarmed mall security or private security guards. If you are confronted by store security, you may be tempted to flee. Don’t. If your detention is deemed to be illegal, you can challenge this guard’s actions in court. But if you run away from security officers, this can be considered evidence of guilt.
Remain calm and silent.
Many store policies state that you must have been observed concealing or otherwise stealing an item in order to be accused and detained. Typically, the individual must have seen you pick up the item in the store so that you cannot claim to have walked in the retailer with it already in your possession.
If you are accused of shoplifting in New Jersey, limit the information you share other than stating your name. Exercise your right to remain silent. Never admit to or confess to shoplifting. Be respectful but don’t incriminate yourself.
If you are handed over to the police by store security, you might feel the need to offer an explanation. Anything you say could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. If the police start questioning you, invoke your right to an attorney. After you say this, the police questioning should cease.
Be familiar with “shopkeeper’s privilege.”
Shopkeeper’s privilege is a law recognized in New Jersey that gives merchants the privilege to detain an accused shoplifter on the store grounds. The store owner or manager must have probable cause for detaining the suspect. They may only detain the alleged shoplifter for a reasonable amount of time. Shopkeepers have to be careful in exercising the privilege so that they avoid the alleged shoplifter claiming that they were falsely arrested or imprisoned.
Mistakes happen on both sides of the register.
A store owner or manager could have made an honest mistake and thought they witnessed shoplifting. If you have a receipt or other evidence available, show it to the manager. If they continue to accuse you, you should invoke your right to remain silent so that something you say isn’t later used against you.
Hire an experienced shoplifting defense lawyer.
If you are accused of shoplifting in New Jersey, an experienced criminal defense attorney will explain the charges and potential penalties you are facing. An attorney will ensure you fully understand the evidence the prosecution needs to prove for a conviction.In addition to informing you of everything relevant to your case, a criminal defense attorney will work to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced.
A lawyer can also represent you in court if the case does not settle before trial. A skilled trial lawyer will know how to build a strong case and what it takes to sway a jury in your favor.
A qualified New Jersey criminal defense lawyer will also dive into the details of the shoplifting case to ensure none of your rights were violated. For example, if the police perform searches or seizures without probable cause, this is unconstitutional, and your case could be dismissed.
Contact a New Jersey Shoplifting Defense Attorney
If you are facing shoplifting charges in New Jersey, never assume the jury will rule against you and lose hope. You are innocent until proven guilty. You have the right to retain an experienced New Jersey shoplifting defense lawyer. Having a lawyer on your side can significantly increase your chances of having your charges downgraded or dismissed. Defendants who represent themselves, also known as pro se, tend to have worse outcomes than those who work with a lawyer from the start.
At Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, our accomplished team of criminal defense attorneys understand what police and prosecutors are legally allowed to do in the handling of your case. We have worked as both defense attorneys and prosecutors, successfully handling many shoplifting cases. Two of our attorneys worked for more than 12 years as prosecutors for Monmouth County, where they handled hundreds of shoplifting cases.
You can rely on Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC to address all of your concerns and answer every one of your questions along the way. For a free case review, call or contact us today.