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Lawmoe, Lawyer (JD)
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Experience:  Lawyer with 19 years of litigation experience in state and federal court systems.
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Hello. My 24 y/o son-on-law was arrested yesterday at his job.

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Hello. My 24 y/o son-on-law was arrested yesterday at his job. I believe they are charging him with felony theft. His arraignment is this afternoon; we bailed him out last night.
I am not trying to diminish his stupidity and poor judgement, but I think he was not treated lawfully for various reasons. He was interrogated in a back room by the loss prevention person and a manager. After some time he was asked to write a statement and and agree that $1000 of items and cash had been taken over 2 1/2 years. He believed that he was agreeing to pay this back and he could walk out. NOT the case: police officers were in the next room. My son had also been without his anti-depression medication for 3 days and was very shakey and lightheaded.
My concern is that he was coerced into an unreasonable amount of loss to the store, which is the difference in felony levels. Perhaps it was correct, but more likely not. Again, I am not trying to be one of those "not my kid" parents.

Thank you for the post.


Obviously, a felony offense is very serious and carries with it potential prison and jail sentences as well as a significant restriction of rights should a conviction occur including a prohibition on possessing firearms and ability to vote. Do not take this lightly.


With regard to the issues raise, a loss prevention person is not a law enforcement officer. As a result, they are not bound by the rules and protections associated with law enforcement. They may question a person they suspect freely.


By contrast a police officer must read a Miranda Warning if a suspect is "in custody" (meaning the no longer reasonably feel free to leave) and an interrogation will occur. If Miranda warnings are not read by police in those circumstances, it does not mean a case is dismissed, however. Instead, it only forms a basis to file a Motion to suppress statements made and evidence adduced from that interrogation. If there is an independent basis for the case to proceed without the statements, it will.


There is also nothing that precludes police or loss prevention people from questioning a person who suffers depression or any other ailment. It could be used in a defense to claim the statements made were inaccurate or a product of coercion, but that is an issue for a jury to ultimately decide.


Regardless, the issue of amount of loss can be argued to the prosecutor and, ultimately, to a jury if the matter proceeds to a trial. If your son has no prior record, often a plea will be offered where a felony can be avoided and, in some cases, a criminal conviction altogether. Such deals are often called a diversion program or a continuance for dismissal where the person is given a probationary period where, if they have no subsequent violations and restitution is paid, the charge is dismissed.


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