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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23176
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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Was caught shoplifting earlier today, was told to leave and

Customer Question

Was caught shoplifting earlier today, was told to leave and not come back, the manager took down my plate #, what should i expect,
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 month ago.


I'm Zoey and I'll be assisting you. I'm reviewing your question now. Are you online at this time?

Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 month ago.

Were the police involved at all or just loss prevention? Did you sign a document barring you from the store? Were you told you would hear from a lawyer about a civil settlement letter (paying a fine)?

Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 month ago.

I was hoping to hear from you to get the answers to my questions, but I will give you a reply. You can always respond with a follow up here on this thread if I've made any wrong assumptions.

When you are caught shoplifting and a store wants to proceed against you, they can do so civilly and/or criminally.

In your case, it looks as if the police were never involved and you dealt only with the manager. This usually means that they are not looking to arrest you. That’s good because it means that this incident will never appear on your criminal record.

Instead of involving the police, the store told you never to come back and took your license plate number so that they could have you arrested for trespassing if you ever show up there again. They likely also had you sign a form which will bar you from that store. You’ll be expected to abide by the stay-away agreement or you can be arrested for trespass if they find you in there ever again.

You may have also been told that you will hear from the store's lawyers who will demand that you pay a civil fine. It will be a much higher amount than the value of the property you allegedly stole. This is because your state's civil law allows merchants to charge in excess of what you took to help defray the cost of their security system, their theft insurance, their security personnel and their loss prevention department.

If you pay the fine that should be the last of it and nobody need know anything about this incident because it will not be on your record.

If you don't pay that fine, the store is unlikely to sue you because it would cost them more to do that than what the case is worth. But they can decide at that point to turn your file over to the police and have you prosecuted.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I never signed anything just asked me to leave
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 month ago.

They could still involve the police. They know where to find you. What was the value of the property they claimed you stole? Did they get it all back in saleable condition? In what US state did this take place?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Happened in Florida, under 30$
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 month ago.

This is a second degree Petit theft misdemeanor. The store probably won't bother to call the police, but you won't be out of the woods for a year. After that, the statute of limitations will run out and the case will be considered too old to be prosecuted.

Should you hear from the police, make no admissions. Get a lawyer for your court appearance. You will likely be able to come out of this matter without a criminal record.

Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 month ago.

Just checking in to see if you need more help or any clarification of my answer. If so, please reply here on this question thread.