Shoplifting is taking up shop in America. Businesses lost more than $61 billion in 2019 due to preventable losses. Shoplifting was one prominent source.
This means that many retail businesses are installing cameras in their stores. It is easy for you to get caught shoplifting, but that does not mean that you are helpless.
What should you do as soon as an officer approaches you? What happens if you get caught shoplifting and then arrested? When is the right time to go to a lawyer?
Answer these questions and you can avoid going to jail through some simple steps. Here are five steps you should follow.
1. Say Nothing
The Fifth Amendment states that no person can be compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against themselves. This means that you have the right to remain silent when a police officer talks to you.
If an officer walks up to you, you are not required to speak to them. Louisiana is a stop-and-identify state. This means that you must give your name and photo ID to a police officer who asks for that information.
If a cop does not ask for your name or your ID, you do not have to identify yourself. When you invoke your right to silence, you must tell the officer that you are doing so. You can otherwise avoid answering any of their questions.
Do not say anything else during a conversation with a cop. Do not ask them for directions or permission to do anything. This can encourage them to continue asking you questions.
2. Do Not Consent to Searches
Section 215.1 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure lays out the guidelines for frisking and searching. An officer may stop a person for questioning and then frisk their outer clothing.
But they can only do so for a dangerous weapon. This is an object that is likely to produce death or significant harm. Guns and knives are dangerous weapons, but not lamps and jewelry.
You must consent to a frisk over your clothing. If an officer discovers something while frisking you, they can take it into evidence. But if they do not, you do not have to consent to searches.
You do not have to consent to searches of your home and property either. You do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle, but an officer can search it anyway. You should mention that you do not consent to the search if an officer starts to look in your car.
3. Do Not Resist Arrest
An officer can arrest you if they have reasonable suspicion that you were shoplifting. This suspicion may be false, or you have a good case against them. Getting arrested may make you emotional and you may want to run away.
But you should not fight back. Place your hands behind your back when a cop asks you to turn around. Sit in the seat they ask you to sit in and remain still.
You will be brought to a police station near you. If you were caught shoplifting in Baton Rouge, you will remain inside Baton Rouge.
Cooperate during the booking process. Misrepresentation during booking is a criminal act in Louisiana, including in Livingston. You must give your legal name and address and consent to be photographed and fingerprinted.
Yet remember that you have the right against self-incrimination. You are not obligated to answer any other questions. You should also remember that anything you say can get used against you, including innocuous comments you make.
4. Contact a Lawyer
Once you are through with booking, you can contact a defense attorney. If possible, try to contact someone you already know. You can find an attorney who is your relative, friend, or work associate.
Police stations may have phone books so you can find attorneys. But these resources are not always available.
If you don’t have a lawyer’s phone number memorized, call a friend or relative. Explain to them that you are at the police station and need help. Remember that your phone call may be recorded, so don’t talk about the circumstances of your arrest.
Your lawyer will try to get to you as soon as possible. Be patient and stay calm. Continue to invoke your right to silence and mention that you want to see a lawyer.
5. Assist in Your Defense
You can start work on your defense as soon as your lawyer arrives. Tell them everything that can help you, including the name of your arresting officer.
Try to get information about Louisiana shoplifting laws. The more you understand the charges you are facing, the easier it is for you to defend yourself.
Your first hearing will be an arraignment hearing. You will understand what charges you are facing, and you will be able to enter a plea.
It is possible for you to be found not guilty, even if you got caught shoplifting on camera. Talk to your lawyer about what plea you want to make and what evidence you want to use for yourself. You have plenty of time to decide on how you want to proceed.
What to Do When You Get Caught Shoplifting
When you get caught shoplifting, you may feel helpless. But the law helps you.
Stay silent to almost all questions an officer asks you. Do not consent to any searches. If an officer asks you about an object in your pocket, do not comment on it.
Do not resist arrest if you get arrested. Cooperate with the booking process, and then contact a lawyer. Get started on your case with an initial consultation.
You got caught shoplifting, but you can catch a great lawyer. Carl Barkemeyer serves the Baton Rouge area. Contact our office today.