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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23530
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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I was shopping at art with my fiancé and after we paid we

Customer Question

I was shopping at art with my fiancé and after we paid we walked through first door and were stopped by two men saying we need to go with them. I was shocked. I asked why and wAs told they needed to talk to my fiance and I wasn't in trouble but still had to go with them. Somehow I still ended up in trouble. I feel like my rights were. violated and was detained falsely. I was charged with concealment of goods (a sweater valued of 12$) that was found under my dog carrier in the biggie my fiancé and I were pushing out the store door. I had no idea it was there. We had paid and I assumed all was taken care of. When we were stopped by loss prevention I was told I was not in trouble etc but my fiancé was. I was unaware that he had taken several kids toys all under 50$ total. I was so mad. They asked if I had anything on me and I said no and they said they wanted to see inside our bags etc. we both corporated. did they have the right to detain me if they told me as well bc I asked what was wrong and I was told it's nothing you have done you aren't in trouble. One of the men said I was behind yall in line and I saw you paid for everything in your cart. I was completely shocked when the full buggy of paid items had an unpaid sweater underneath the bag. I offered to pay for it as it was a mistake. My fiancé told them he did it and took responsibility but they still gave me a ticket too. I refused to sign this piece of paper saying I was guilty bc I am not. This is my first offense. Only thing on my record is a dui. What am I facing? Any chances of dismissal? Do I have any fights to sue them for how I was treated? They told me I wouldnt be charged several times but when police came I was given a ticket. We're we supposed to be read our rights? We were not. We had to sign a paper saying we will never go back to any of those store forever! What costs am I looking at? What punishment etc. I am about to be off unsupervised probation for a dui that was committed aprox 3 years ago but was convicted last May unless I'm already off (do u go off probation after you commit the community service hrs and classes or is it for a full year when I get my full license not provisional license back in April)? Will this affect that? I was told by the cop it wouldn't bc it was a ticket not arrest buy I'm so scared. Is their a way to get it dismissed or dropped before court through anyone else? Can I sue them for anything bc the whole incident was so stressing and unfair? I am very sick fighting for my life with cancer and a rare disease SMA syndrome and the stress is killing me. I got very sick while I was sitting in the hallway and they were talking to my fiancé and when I came back from bathroom is when they went through our stuff. (20 min into the detainment) my fiancé took responsibility for the sweater but now has told me he said that to make sure I wouldn't get in trouble for anything since he was the guilty one but didn't do it and says one of the three loss prevention ppl did it when I was in bathroom bc one walked with me one was with him and the other with the cart. Bot***** *****ne I didn't do it and still was charged with him saying he did. (He didn't question or accuse them or hasn't officially yet. Should he?) Did they have the right to do this? Do you think I can get this dismissed or thrown out? This is my finances third misdemeanor larceny charge. First was dismissed. Second was well over a year ago and he took a guilty plea of lowest charge possible and paid a fine. What is he facing? Will he have jail? He signed the paper saying he was guilty the one I wouldn't sign. Now We both got a letter from the store saying I need to pay them $150 or be taken to civil court. I need answers as to my multiple issues please. This is in NC.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 9 months ago.

Hello,

Were you actually charged with shoplifting, and you have to appear in criminal court? Is your case still open? What is the question you wish to ask with regard to this incident?

Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 9 months ago.

I was hoping to hear more from you, before responding, but you can always respond here on this question thread and correct any misunderstanding I may have made about your circumstances.

You can be charged with acting together with your fiancé even though you never touched the stolen items. If it's reasonable for the store to believe that you had to have known what your fiancé is doing and that you assisted in some way with his unlawful act, you can find yourself arrested right along with him. This happens all of the time when, for example, a coupe of people are shopping together and one does the shoplifting while the other keeps an eye out for the store security guards, or is outside ready with the car for a quick getaway.

There's a big difference between what the state needs to make an arrest -- just a reasonable belief that you may have been involved in your boyfriend's criminal enterprise -- and what they need to convict you, which is proof of your involvement beyond a reasonable doubt. So did they have the right to arrest you along with your boyfriend? Yes, they arguably did. Will your case be dismissed? It's still possible, but as the DA didn't dismiss it from jump street but offered you a plea agreement, probably not.

Your fiance is probably looking at nothing worse than probation for this charge, but with two others in his past, he's skating on thin ice. If there's a next time, he may have to do some time. But as he hasn't had probation yet, if he can't get a large fine and/or a ton of community service, he should be able to get probation this time.

You, on the other hand, if you were interested in resolving the case in some way other than trial, might be able to get an adjudicated dismissal. That is, on a first arrest you'd be eligible for a diversion type of disposition. This is where you'd get supervised, do some community service, pay some fines, take anti-shoplifting classes and stay out of further trouble during your period of supervision. At the end of the successful completion of your conditionsl, your case gets dismssed. Or, of course, you can take the matter all the way to trial if they don't dismiss, and let the state try to prove that you were working with your boyfriend beyond a reasonable doubt.

As to the civil letter, the store has the right to go after you both civilly to help defray the cost of their theft insurance, surveillance system, store security guards and loss prevention department. However, despite the letter from the law firm, you don't actually have to pay the store unless/until there is a court order ordering you to do so. That is, you can ignore the letter and make them sue you, which for $150, they probably won't bother.

There's no advantage to paying the money, since you've been charged criminally already.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
i wanted to know if I have a case against them in anyway for the way they treated me when they clearly told me I was not in trouble and they needed to talk to him and then we got back there and I felt like I was being detained illegally. I hadn't shoplifted nor was accused until they found the sweater in which he took responsability for. No one ever suggested it and we def were not. I was shocked and so upset when I found out what he had been up to as I was not with him 90% of the time shopping. Therefore without being accused or charged as doing something together how can they charge me for the sweater if he admitted he did it? We both just got tickets and were not handcuffed etc. have to appear in court like traffic court. No I was never accused of working together. I was just held responsible for the sweater. How do k get it dismissed before the court date?
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for the reply. Sorry for the delay. I stepped away from the computer.

The store involved the authorities and from there, it's not exclusively their call as to whether the state wants to go after you too based on what they heard about the incident.

However, you can't do a thing at this point anyway because you still have an open case against you. And if you want to go after the store and/or the police for a malicious prosecution, what happens in criminal court can seal the fate of a civil suit. That is, you've got to win your case. Any conviction by either plea or verdict would make a false arrest true.

So even if you have a suit, it's not ripe yet.

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