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Your Rights If You Are Suspected of Shoplifting

Posted on in Theft & Burglary

Your Rights If You Are Suspected of Shoplifting, theft, criminal lawShoplifting is a common crime. More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the U.S. in the past five years, according to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention.

Being accused of shoplifting or theft is unique in that police are not usually involved, at least at first. Usually, a security guard or someone else employed by the store is the person to first accuse someone suspected of shoplifting. Because of this, there are different rules that stores and security guards must follow.

What happens if you are suspected of shoplifting? First, a store employee may stop you, and they can stop you before you exit the store. Under Illinois law,  a store can detain you if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe that you shoplifted. The store can only detain a suspect in a “reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time” for the purpose of:

  • Requesting and verifying identification
  • Asking as to whether the suspect is in the possession of merchandise
  • Contacting police and waiting for police to arrive
  • Attempting to contact the suspect’s parents, in the case of a minor

In addition, security guards do not have to read a suspect his or her rights before questioning. In the case of a minor, security guards do not need to wait for parents to be present to question a suspect.

Despite these differences, the advice lawyers give to suspects remains the same: A suspect should never speak to police officers or security guards without a lawyer present.

If you are caught shoplifting, several things can happen:

  • A store can call the police, who could arrest you, and criminal charges could be brought.
  • A store could sue you civilly for the retail value of the merchandise plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
  • A store could issue a banishment letter prohibiting you from returning to the store. If you return to a store that has banished you, there are additional repercussions.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Criminal Attorney

If you have been accused of shoplifting or theft, you have rights. You have the right to an attorney, and the sooner you speak to a DuPage County criminal defense lawyer, the sooner you can be confident that your rights will be protected. Located in Wheaton, Illinois, our firm has represented many clients throughout the area and has the experience to defend you. Call our offices today at 630-871-1700 for a free consultation.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt.+16%2C+Subdiv.+10&ActID=1876&ChapterID=53.&SeqStart=39200000&SeqEnd=39700000

http://www.shopliftingprevention.org/what-we-do/learning-resource-center/statistics/

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