What to Do If You Are Accused of Shoplifting


Being accused of shoplifting is a terrible experience, but it is important to recognize that false accusations are not uncommon. Most store clerks simply do not have the experience to make such assessments accurately, and it can lead to false accusations. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, however, if you are accused of shoplifting, remain calm and remember that whoever is accusing you is trying to do his or her job. Keep your cool, and remember that you have rights you can invoke if the accusation is not dropped. If a store accuses you of shoplifting, it is deeply offensive, but try to maintain your dignity as you move forward through the experience.

Shoplifting Defined

In Texas, shoplifting is covered by the umbrella of theft. Theft is the act of taking someone else’s property without that person’s permission and with the intention of depriving the person of his or her own property. Shoplifting can come in a variety of forms, including:

  • Taking merchandise out of a store without paying for it
  • Swapping price tags to avoid paying the full retail price for merchandise
  • Writing a bad check to pay for your merchandise

The Retailer’s Rights

If a retailer finds property on you that he or she alleges you stole from the establishment, that retailer has the right to charge you with shoplifting.(Read more about shopkeeper's privilege) The incident will likely follow a fairly straightforward course that goes something like this:

  • An employee or a store security guard will question you.
  • If the retailer accuses you of shoplifting, he or she may detain you and call the police. (Don't self incriminate when talking to the police)
  • The police will write you a citation.
  • The retailer will likely ask you not to return to the store again.

Reminding yourself that the people involved are doing their jobs to the best of their abilities may help calm you. Further, arguing is likely to do nothing so much as escalate the situation. Your job is to remain calm and invoke your rights.

Your Rights

If the person who accused you simply made a mistake and you can support this fact with a receipt or other evidence, present your evidence and explain the situation. If the retailer will not drop the accusation, invoke your rights, which include:

  • You have the right to see any evidence the retailer has against you.
  • You have the right to remain silent (your only obligation is to identify yourself to the police if they become involved).
  • You have the right to legal representation at any time throughout the process, and you are well-advised to avail yourself of this right.

If You Have Been Charged with Shoplifting, Consult with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Lawyer Today

Being charged with shoplifting is both humiliating and offensive, but experienced criminal attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is committed to helping you move past this experience. You have rights, and Mr. Pritchard has the experience, dedication, and skill to protect them. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 today.


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