Recently, a woman was charged with retail theft after being accused of stealing over $400 from a Target department store. She has since been released pending a court date. Shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, but it can have serious consequences for those convicted, including jail time, even when it is a person’s first offense. If you have been charged, it is critical that you know the steps to take that can protect your case.
Remain Polite and Respectful
Becoming belligerent or aggressive with store security or the police is only going to make things worse for you. While the situation is a stressful one, and frustrating when you are innocent, you must remain polite and respectful to anyone that you deal with during this time. If you do not, law enforcement will take note of your behavior and use it against you in court.
Do Not Flee the Scene
Trying to run or drive away is also going to make things worse for your case. Law enforcement will likely find you and when they do, they will arrest you for retail theft. Even worse, because you tried to run, you may face charges of fleeing the scene, or even assault if you pushed or hurt anyone as you rushed to leave the scene.
You have the right to remain silent any time you are accused of retail theft. If you are placed under arrest, the arresting officer should also read you the Miranda warning, which will tell you of this right. Anything you say can be used against you, so it is best to say nothing at all.
Honestly Identify Yourself
One of the first things store security or law enforcement will likely ask you is for your identity. It is best to remain honest with them and to tell them your name, and to even present your identification, such as a driver’s license, when asked. If you give a fake name or even just intentionally misspell your name, you may be charged with obstruction of justice.
Determine Whether You Have Been Charged
Many times, store security or even law enforcement may simply let you go with just a warning, particularly if the value of allegedly stolen goods was fairly small. In this case, you do not have to do anything at all once you leave the store. If you are criminally charged though, you will receive a summons in the mail, which will contain a court date that it is crucial you attend.
Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Philadelphia
After being charged with shoplifting, the skills and preparedness of your Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer will make a big difference. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our defense lawyers will prepare a strong case to defend you against the charges and we will ensure that no small mistakes are made, so you do not face big consequences. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.