You’ve Been Accused of Shoplifting in IL — How Do You Respond?
Being accused of a crime like shoplifting in Illinois can be jarring. But once you’re over the initial shock, what do you do? Do you run from the store? Do you comply and answer all of their questions? Do you demand the store to call the police so you can clear your name?
Each person may respond differently to a shoplifting accusation, both in good and bad ways. But it’s important for every person to understand what their rights are in this situation. It helps to know what you can do at that moment to help reduce the trouble for yourself later.
Here’s what you need to know about your rights if accused of shoplifting and the steps you should take in the aftermath.
Your Rights if Accused
If a security guard or worker approaches you in a store and accuses you of shoplifting, there are a few important things to know.
First and foremost, the employees of the store do have the right to stop you, and they can do so before you leave the store. In fact, under the law in Illinois, store employees are allowed to detain you if they believe on reasonable grounds that you have shoplifted.
However, the store can only detain you for a necessary length of time and in an appropriate manner. This means they can stop you long enough to:
- Ask for identification
- Ask if you are in possession of unpurchased merchandise
- Contact the police and wait for their arrival
- Contact the parents of the accused, if they’re a minor
If a security guard detains you, they are not required to read you your rights before questioning you. If a minor is suspected, the store does not have to wait for their parents to question them, either.
Of course, you always have the right to remain silent, whether those rights are read to you or not. An attorney would suggest you not speak to police or security without a lawyer present.
What Happens if You’re Accused of Shoplifting?
Several actions can take place if a store employee stops you and accuses you of shoplifting. They can call the police and have charges pressed against you.. They can sue you in civil court for the value of the merchandise. They can also prohibit you from returning to the store.
What Are the Legal Consequences of Shoplifting
If you are accused of shoplifting and eventually found guilty, you can face penalties. The penalty depends on the value of the items for which you were convicted of shoplifting.
Class A misdemeanors start at items valued at $300. That conviction can put you in jail for up to one year. As the value of the items stolen increased, so do the penalties. This goes all the way up to a Class 2 felony, which can send you to jail for as many as seven years.
Being accused of shoplifting is serious, which is why it’s vital to understand your rights in this situation. Remember, you never have to answer questions, even for police, without a lawyer present.
It may be better to not say anything at all until you’ve been advised by an attorney. This is the biggest piece of advice to keep in mind.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.