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kid123's avatar

What to do when being charged with shoplifting?

Asked by kid123 (26 points ) February 15th, 2012

A few weeks ago, when I was shopping with a friend she got caught for shoplifting. I didn’t do it but since I was with her I’m getting charged, she’s underage and not getting charged. I have a fine for six hundred dollars, and can’t afford to pay it. What should I do? I have no criminal record, and have never stolen? Is this charge going to show up on my criminal record. It has to be payed Iin two weeks, and at the moment I can’t afford rent.

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19 Answers

tedd's avatar

I’m quite certain you could take this to court and have it tossed out, especially with no prior record.

gailcalled's avatar

What about her parents?

Were you aware at the time of what she had done?

Can you get a pro bono lawyer?

kid123's avatar

The cops came, and said I woudnt be charged because she stole it, and I have no criminal recod. I got the letter yesturday in a mail from the company charging me for shoplifting. I didn’t shop lift, they also spelled my name wrong, on the letter? And my freind is living with my parents, she hasnt talked to her parents in months.

gailcalled's avatar

Were you aware of what she was doing at the time? Could you have stopped her?

Do you have the names of the policemen who took your statement?

You must enlist your parents’ help.

kid123's avatar

The letter says it has nothing to do with the police. Should I get legal advice for a lawyer? I don’t have the money for one. I’m over 18 and my parents won’t help me with this.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Here is a site that gives the laws of each State and helpful tips. I strongly suggest you get advice from or hire an attorney if you think your parents will not be helpful.

kid123's avatar

And no, I wasn’t aware she was stealing. She was caught before and said she would stop, and now I’m being charged.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Where is the letter from? How did they get your info if you weren’t charged?

marinelife's avatar

Call Legal Aid. You need some help here.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther. I hope we can help you.

I understand that you “can’t afford” an attorney. However, I think you should call one anyway (they are always looking for business; they’ll take your call) and ask if you can have a “free consultation”. Many attorneys do that nowadays; you should have no problem finding a beginning attorney (say in a storefront operation, not in one of the high-rises downtown) who will consult with you for a short while on this “case”.

Take the letter you got from the store, and anything that the police may have given to you in writing (if they did, which you don’t say). The attorney will more than likely look at your letter and tell you that the company is trying to bluff you. They have no case, especially if the police have already said that.

But I think you need some reassurance here.

@marinelife‘s suggestion to talk to Legal Aid is also a good one (and not so long-winded).

mrrich724's avatar

You were caught with her. You now have to go to court, plead your case, and probably have it tossed out.

WestRiverrat's avatar

It sounds like the store is trying to intimidate you into paying them restitution. If so it is a civil case and will not show up on your criminal record. Get a copy of the police report, take the letter and the police report to an attorney and ask for a consultation. Most will give you a half hour free to determine if you have a case and if it is worth their time to persue it for you.

I would also stop shopping with that friend.

jca's avatar

I am at a loss as to how the store can “charge you” with anything. Stores don’t do that and don’t have that power.

jca's avatar

My question above refers to the letter itself. If the store were pressing charges, or bringing a civil suit, they would not communicate with the OP directly. They would communicate through the courts.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@jca Yep, the OP hasn’t stepped back to answer that. I had the same question in mind when I typed that response above. I just don’t get how this letter is sending him to court.

kid123's avatar

The letter was sent to me from winners. Saying I tresspassed and shoplifted wich I didn’t. They said it has nothing to do with the police and if I don’t pay their taking me to court with me paying for it. The letter doesn’t have my name correct at all. If I just ignore it what would happen?

CWOTUS's avatar

If you just ignore it, then it will probably just go away. But you don’t want to sit around waiting for that to happen, and dreading what the mail will bring every day.

So what I would do is… respond.

Write a draft of what you’ve told us. Be specific about the times and events and what occurred. (I would not mention your friend; you don’t need to throw her under the bus.) Be completely factual. Don’t be emotional. Say what your friend did if you want, and say what you knew and didn’t know, and when and how you found things out. Say what store employees told you, and what the police said.

Then take that account (which you should re-write a few times so that it is perfectly clear, complete, and accurate) and take that, plus the correspondence you’ve received from the store, and visit a storefront lawyer (or Legal Aid) and ask for a short free consultation. (Any lawyer who is interested in potential future business with you can spare a half-hour, even if he normally doesn’t do free consults, to read over what you will have to say and what the store has said.)

He may agree to write a letter to the store to present your side of things for a very nominal fee, and once the store sees that you have a lawyer and you aren’t simply rolling over and afraid of them, then they will probably drop the thing, because there isn’t that much they can sue you for, is there? If you’re an anonymous heiress and just haven’t told us that, then all bets are off, but I’m guessing that’s not the case.

Don’t just “wait to see what happens”. Make it happen your way.

auhsojsa's avatar

Don’t pay it. Let them take you to court. I shop lifted as a child or was an attempt and Robinsons May ask my parents whether they wanted the police to handle it or accept their fine of 1k. They are counting you an accomplice and have no proof therefore you will win in court.

Kardamom's avatar

I don’t know where you live, but here in Los Angeles there is a legal radio program hosted by Bill Handel on KFI radio station. He has his own Legal Website where you can get help finding a lawyer, and if you look at the menu up near the top right hand side, there is a tab that says “Ask a Lawyer” where you can ask legal questions of real lawyers and get free advice on what to do next and where to go to seek legal counsel and aid.

Make sure you make several copies of the letter that you received. Keep a copy plus the original letter in a safe place as “proof” that it was sent to you. You may need to give a copy to a lawyer (if you end up getting one) or giving one to the judge, if they somehow manage to attempt to sue you (which is highly unlikely under the circumstances).

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