Wrongfully Accused of Shoplifting? Here's What You Can Do.

Being accused of shoplifting can be an embarrassing situation for any shopper, even more so when that shopper actually paid for their goods. While the situation sounds unlikely, thousands of shoppers find themselves in this exact scenario every year.

If you've been wrongly accused of shoplifting, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options - keep reading to learn more.

Shoppers arguing with security officer

Florida’s Shoplifting Laws

When a person is accused of shoplifting in Florida, the amount of the charge depends on the value of the items stolen. Under Florida's theft statute, petty theft, the shoplifting of items valued at less than $750, is classified as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or one year in jail.

The penalties for shoplifting more than $750 worth of merchandise can be severe. You can expect to be charged with a felony, and the penalties can include hefty fines and prison sentences of up to 30 years.

Store personnel may not detain a person without probable cause when an arrest is made. They must have reasonable grounds to believe the theft occurred before arresting the person. If there’s no reasonable suspicion, the person can challenge the arrest.

A false arrest can also lead to a civil action against the business. The lawsuit alleges that the business wrongfully detained the person and caused them physical or emotional harm in the process. An experienced false arrest and shoplifting attorney can assist you in pursuing such claims.

How To Handle False Shoplifting Accusations

If you find yourself in the unpleasant position of being falsely accused of shoplifting, it's important that you know what immediate action you can take to defend your integrity.

Remain Calm And Cooperative

Stay calm and cooperate with store or security personnel if you are accused of shoplifting. Getting upset might make things worse. Make sure to speak quietly and politely to the clerk or police officer. 

Show Proof Of Purchase

If someone claims you took something without paying, show them your receipt or proof that you bought it. This can be a receipt, bank statement, or email confirmation if you paid with a card or online.

Ensure all items are listed on the receipt before leaving the store. If there’s a mix-up, ask to speak to a manager or security staff member immediately to resolve the matter calmly and clearly. They should listen and check what went wrong when they see your proof of purchase. 

Talking to the manager or police doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. It's a chance to clean up the mistake before it becomes a big problem. 

What To Do If An Accusation Leads To Arrest

If the accusation of shoplifting escalates to the point of arrest, it's important to remain calm and remember your rights. An arrest is a serious matter; if an arrest occurs, you should know what to do before speaking to the authorities.

Do Not Resist Arrest

At the time of the arrest, the police officers will give you orders. Listen carefully and do what they say, even if it feels unfair at the time. This way, you can prevent the situation from escalating.

Show them your receipt or proof of payment without getting angry or defensive. You have the right to explain yourself, but save in-depth discussions for later when an attorney is present.

If they end up putting you in handcuffs, do not resist arrest. In court, you will have the opportunity to present your side of the story if it matters. Remember that you shouldn’t discuss what happened with anyone but your attorney.

Seek Legal Assistance

An experienced lawyer will review and analyze the evidence, video recordings, or witness statements. If there are inconsistencies with the evidence, the attorney will challenge it. They can also file motions for a hearing, negotiate a reduced sentence, go to court with you, and provide other practical legal support.

When looking for a lawyer, it’s important that you find someone who has experience in similar cases. A defense attorney who specializes in shoplifting will know the possible scenarios that can occur, as well as the potential legal consequences of each action. The lawyer must have experience with the criminal justice system and a track record of success in winning cases and obtaining favorable client results.

Speak To An Attorney About Your Charges

If you've been falsely accused of shoplifting or arrested for theft in Florida, you should immediately speak with an experienced defense attorney. 

Our attorneys are former prosecutors and public defenders with an intimate knowledge of the criminal justice system as well as the “playbook” that Florida prosecutors use when trying cases.  Call us at 888.626.1108 or click here to schedule a free case review with an attorney today.

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