Charged With Shoplifting: 5 Things To Do

Do Not Talk to The Police or Store Security

Time after time after time people think they can talk their way out of trouble with the police. Time after time these same people almost always regret it. Detectives and police officers are extremely skillful with interrogation techniques. They know how to trip people up. They know how to get the answers they are looking for. A lot of people after they get arrested for shoplifting feel a strong desire to come up with an innocent reason for their mistake. These innocent reasons almost always turn out to be confessions of guilt.  If a police officer wants to talk to you about shoplifting, please politely invoke your right to remain silent and also exercise your right to speak to an attorney. Once you have done this, police officers must stop all questioning of you. Warning: Police officers may still try to trick you into talking to them after some time has passed. Once again, please politely refuse to do so and invoke your constitutional right to counsel and to remain silent. 

Do not run and resist store security 

In the vast majority of cases, police are not involved in shoplifting charges. A member of the store’s security unit usually tries to pull someone aside if they believe a person is committing retail fraud. Once store security has made contact with a person they believe has stolen store merchandise, they will usually take them back into the loss prevention office. In this office, they will ask to examine your receipt if you got one. They will ask to examine purchased items and maybe even look into store bags the perpetrator tried to walk out with. Resisting store security can cause a person to face far more serious charges. It will also be harder to get a good plea deal for a person who wants to settle their case short of trial.  

Make Restitution

In many circumstances, a person who gets caught shoplifting did not get away with merchandise. In many states, this means the shoplifter will not have to make a restitution payment. However, under Michigan law, a store can still send someone a bill for civil damages. This amount is usually $200 dollars. People charged with retail fraud in Michigan will get a demand letter for a law firm out of state seeking civil damages. Do not pay this fee! Is a lawyer from another state really going to waste their time filing a lawsuit in another state to collect $200? The damage a store has from a theft of merchandise is paying for security that deals with loss prevention. Under Michigan law, the victim of retail fraud has the right to make a statement to the court, and prosecutors can question the victims about what type of plea deal is going to be offered.  If restitution has been made to the victim, they will more likely be fine with a lesser charge being offered and keeping the defendant out of jail. If you are innocent of the charge, do not make restitution!  

Hire A Qualified Criminal Defense Lawyer

I am amazed at how many times people think they can handle a retail fraud charge without a lawyer. This is a major mistake! I have a cousin who got busted stealing items from a store. She showed up to court and entered a guilty plea right away and has a criminal record. I could have prevented her from having a criminal record! Qualified criminal defense attorneys know the law inside and out. They know how to get you the best result possible. The best results can sometimes be keeping you out of jail, getting the charges dropped, getting a not guilty verdict at trial, getting a person a lesser charge or getting the accused a diversion program which gives the shoplifter a chance to get the charges dropped sooner rather than later. 

Always Be Sure To Appear In Court

One of the worst things a person can do is not show up for a court date. This is a sure-fire way to end up in jail! Always show up when you are required to for court.  At your arraignment, do not plead guilty to the charge. Enter a not guilty plea and set up a pretrial conference. When it comes to setting a bond at your arraignment, make sure you ask the judge for a personal recognizance bond. This means you do not have to pay any money to be out of jail and it gives you a chance to save your money on other expenses.