Regardless of the circumstances, if you’re accused of shoplifting it’s important to understand the steps you can take to protect your legal rights.

Imagine a situation in which you’re shopping, while minding your business, but you’re soon accused by a store associate of stealing. You don’t think it’s true. But you will need to protect yourself.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Ask for more information: For example, if you’re accused of shoplifting inside the store, you can always argue that you were going to pay for the goods. Even if the associate thinks you’re lying, you didn’t steal anything until you’re outside the store. You have every right to make this clear.
  • Don’t run: If you run, you give the store reason to believe you have something to hide. It’s best to stay where you are, share your side of the story and attempt to find some type of resolution.
  • Don’t say too much: It’s okay to discuss the circumstances with the store associate or security guard, but don’t say too much. The more you talk, the greater chance there is of saying something that makes you look guilty. You always have the right to remain silent.
  • Don’t resist arrest: If police arrive at the scene and you’re put under arrest, don’t resist. Remain quiet, pay close attention to how you’re treated and don’t share any information with the arresting officer(s). Resisting only makes things worse.

Just because you’re accused of shoplifting doesn’t mean a conviction is forthcoming. There are defense strategies you can use to protect your legal rights.

While shoplifting isn’t the most serious crime, the penalties can be severe. For example, if you’re convicted of stealing something of great value, such as jewelry, a conviction could lead to a prison sentence.

There are a variety of shoplifting defense strategies to consider, all of which will give you confidence while helping prevent a conviction. It’s a tough situation to deal with, but don’t lose sight of your legal rights. If you don’t protect yourself, you’re making a mistake that could impact your future in a variety of ways.