A person may face accusations of shoplifting for any number of reasons, some legitimate and some baseless. However, even if a retailer catches a person shoplifting, they have very limited abilities to detain that person, and often far overstep their authority when dealing with shoplifting suspects.
If you recently experienced unfair detainment or treatment by a retailer in the course of shoplifting allegations, then you need to protect your rights with every tool you have available. In far too many instances, retail employees tasked with handling loss prevention have very little understanding of the law and may see themselves as law enforcement when they are not. When this is the case, civil rights violations tend to occur.
Whatever kind of merchandise a retailer claims you stole, does the value of the merchandise justify violating your rights? In most cases, no. Unfortunately, without some professional legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney, a court may easily side with the retailer, handing down an unfair punishment to you while letting the retailer’s violations of your rights fade away, legally speaking.
Can a retailer legally detain you?
Generally speaking, it is not legal for one private citizen to hold another private citizen against his or her will. In some instances, this may actually amount to false imprisonment or some other similar charge against the holding party.
However, the law does recognize the need of a retailer to prevent losses from shoplifting, and if a retailer has sufficient reason to believe that a suspect did, in fact shoplift, the retailer may hold the suspect for a reasonable amount of time in a reasonable manner.
If a retailer detained you with unreasonable force, or held you for an unreasonable amount of time, especially without sufficient evidence of actual wrongdoing on your part, then you may have grounds to sue them for false imprisonment, or possibly false arrest.
It is not legal for you to hold your neighbor in your closet if you think he or she is stealing your mail. Similarly, it is not legal for a retailer to hold you against your will for an unreasonable amount of time or violate your rights while doing so.
Your rights are not optional for a retailer
If you received shoplifting charges as a result of unfair actions by a retailer, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands just how important it is to protect your rights.
Professional legal counsel helps you assess the circumstances of your detainment and identify grounds for fighting these charges and protecting the rights that you and every other person deserve.