What to Do (and What Not to Do) If You Are Arrested for Shoplifting

shutterstock_2586024711 in 11 Americans have shoplifted at some point and, according to New York Magazine, 1 in 48 get caught.  Of those 1 in 48 that are caught, about 50% of them get turned into the police.  If you are like so many Americans and have been arrested for shoplifting, you need to know what to do next.  Depending on what you are accused of stealing and the circumstances around your arrest, your charges can range from misdemeanor to felony.  If you are arrested for shoplifting you need to know what to do right away and, just as importantly, what not to do to protect yourself.

First, if you are detained in the store from which you were shoplifting, it is important to know that you should not speak.  The store personnel may try to tell you that if you simply confess, sign an admission of guilt, and return the merchandise to the store that you can go free.  It is important that you do not sign any admission of guilt and say as little as possible.  The store personnel may decide to call police and then you may be placed under arrest.  Once under arrest, any admission of guilt you have signed will then be evidence in the case against you.

If you are arrested for shoplifting by a police officer, the recommendation remains the same.  Say as little as possible and immediately ask for your attorney.  Your attorney will know the appropriate questions to ask and how to proceed to minimize your chances of being charged, to enhance your chances of charges being dropped, or to get you the best possible outcome in your case.  In many cases, a police officer will give you a citation that looks similar to a traffic ticket that tells you when your court date will be and be allowed to go home.  But, depending on the circumstances or the value of the item you have stolen, you may be arrested and taken into custody.  Either way, your attorney will be able to speak on your behalf.

In many cases, your charges may be dismissed in exchange for participating in an alternative program or after speaking with the prosecutor.  If the value of the item you have taken is less than $950, you may be charged with petty theft.  If the item costs more than $950, you may be charged with grand theft.  For these reasons, and to give you the best possible outcome, if you are arrested for shoplifting it is imperative that you consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.



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