What Happens if You're Caught Shoplifting?

Maybe you shoplifted on impulse or perhaps it was all just a misunderstanding. If you find yourself facing criminal charges for shoplifting, however,, it's time to reach out to an attorney. Here's what you need to know.

Whether you were in the wrong place at the wrong time or you simply made a bad decision, you may find yourself facing criminal charges for shoplifting. Unfortunately, even shoplifting a small item may lead to weeks or months of frustration as you learn to navigate the legal system and understand exactly how to begin moving forward. If you are caught shoplifting, it's important to stay calm. While this may seem impossible, the reality is that if you can stay calm, you'll be able to better understand what is about to happen to you. In some cases, you may face jail time or need to pay a fine. In other cases, you could be banned from a store. Here's what you need to know.

1. Remember that you might not be arrested

If a security guard catches you shoplifting, they will have the option of calling the police. If this is your first offense or if the offense was obviously an accident, the security guard may choose to let you go with a warning. In some cases, the store may also implement a ban against you. Stores take even minor shoplifting offenses very seriously since losing inventory can impact their future sales and prices.

2. Understand your rights

You also need to make sure that you understand your rights. In some cases, the store may choose to call the police. If you are arrested, a police officer will read your rights to you; however, your attorney can further explain what your rights are after the arrest occurs. In some cases, you might need to serve jail time while you wait for a court date. In others, you'll be able to go home until you appear in court. Your rights during this time may be limited, however. For example, you may not have the right to leave the state or, in some cases, even the county.

3. Your lawyer can help

When you meet with an attorney, understand that they will never judge you. Your attorney wants to help you have the best possible outcome from the case. A shoplifting conviction can impact you for many years to come. Your attorney understands how the court system works and can help review the details of your case. They will let you know what your options are, what you can expect during court, and what may happen after your hearing.

No matter what circumstances led to your arrest, make sure you reach out to a criminal defense attorney who can represent you legally. A lawyer is an incredibly valuable asset. Your attorney will explain the charges against you and will help you understand exactly what you're facing. Most importantly, your attorney will help you create an effective defense and will assist you in moving forward.