5 Steps to Take If You Have Been Arrested for A Shoplifting Claim

In the state of New Jersey, if you have been arrested for a shoplifting claim it means that you are at risk for jail time, having to pay fines, and having to make restitution to the retailer from whom you are accused of stealing. By definition, a charge of shoplifting means that the accused person has either taken merchandise or concealed it, changed it or removed price tags in a way that deprives the merchant of the ability to sell it and the money that they are owed for the item. If you are found to have concealed an item, changed the tags or transferred it into another container you can be accused of shoplifting, even if you never walked out of the store. The penalty for shoplifting is often determined by the value of the item that was involved, with the lowest penalty and classification assigned to those who are accused of shoplifting merchandise worth less than $200 and charges and penalties moving up incrementally as the value of the goods increases. If you have been arrested for a shoplifting claim you can be charged both criminally and civilly – the merchant can sue you for the value of the merchandise that you take if it is not recovered in its original condition, plus damages for the costs of having you arrested. These penalties and fees can add up quickly – that is why you need the assistance of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can provide you with a vigorous, aggressive defense. The lawyers at Wallace Law can help.

There are five steps to take if you have been arrested for a shoplifting claim, and knowing them at the time you are charged will dramatically aid your chances of being cleared of charges. They are:

  1. Do not run away from store security. In most cases, the first accusation of shoplifting does not come from the police, but from an employee of the store or the store’s internal security. If you have been confronted, do not run away. They are not allowed to detain you because they are not law enforcement, and you will be able to make a charge of illegal detainment in court if they do. But if you run it will definitely make you look guilty.
  2. Do not say anything to the police. Once you are in police custody, anything that you say can be used against you to prove your guilt. That means that you shouldn’t apologize, offer an explanation, or try to minimize what happened. Simply say that you want to speak to an attorney.
  3. Get yourself an experienced criminal defense attorney.
  4. If the item that you are accused of stealing was not left in the custody of the store, and it is in your possession, try to pay for it or return it. In many cases if a retailer ends up getting their property back it is not worth it for them to spend the time involved in pursuing a lawsuit.
  5. Make sure that you listen to everything that your attorney recommends and show up in court on the day that you are supposed to. Otherwise the judge will issue a bench warrant and you will be in even more trouble.

At Wallace Law, we have a long and successful record of helping our clients avoid jail time and fees when they are facing a shoplifting claim. Contact us as soon as possible if a shoplifting claim has been filed against you.