Shoplifting is a serious offense that can tarnish your record and have long-lasting consequences. Understanding your rights if you have been accused of shoplifting is essential. It’s perhaps even more critical if you feel you have been wrongfully accused. Our skilled theft defense lawyers at The MOORHEAD LAW GROUP can help.
Below are suggestions if you have been accused of stealing.
1. “Shopkeeper’s Privilege”
In Colorado, shopkeeper’s privilege allows merchants to detain a person they suspect is shoplifting. The store owner or manager must articulate probable cause to detain the suspect. Also, the detention period must be reasonable. Shopkeepers do not have the authority to detain a person for an extended period. If they do, or if there was no probable cause to detain a person in the first place, they can face serious consequences.
2. Do Not Escape Store Security
Law enforcement is not always immediately called. If a store employee suspects that a person is shoplifting, mall security or private security may confront them as they exit the store. If you are confronted by security, do not run away. Running can be used as evidence of guilt. If you believe that the guard’s actions in stopping or detaining you are illegal, you can challenge this in court.
3. Do Not Panic | Do Not Speak
Stores have policies on who they can accuse or detain as a shoplifting suspect. A store employee or other individual must have personally observed you steal an item or conceal it inside the store. Otherwise, a person could have already possessed it before walking into the store.
When security confronts you, they may start by saying that they saw you steal something. They may encourage you to speak now and promise that they won’t call the police. If you are accused of shoplifting in Colorado, you should be very careful of the statements you willingly share. Despite what security says, you should only share your name. Invoke your right to remain silent. Do not admit or confess to any conduct.
Even if security chooses to call the police, you should still limit your words. Sometimes, people think by speaking they are making the situation better, but in fact, are making it worse. What you say can later be used against you. Ask for an attorney. Invoke your right to remain silent. Once you exercise your right to an attorney, police are prohibited from asking more questions.
4. Mistakes Can Happen
In a case where you have proof of your innocence, you can show that to a store owner or manager. If the shopkeeper insists that you stole an item you have a receipt for, you should present it. If a store owner continues to accuse you, you should remain silent.
Experienced Theft Defense Lawyer
Colorado’s experienced theft defense attorney can explain shoplifting charges and potential penalties. Having a lawyer will help you better understand the facts necessary to your case and whether there is a possibility of having charges dismissed or reduced.
Contact the Moorhead Law Group for a consultation. Our qualified attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected. If you were wrongfully detained or questioned after you already invoked your right to an attorney, your case could be dismissed.