Falsely Accused of Shoplifting in Miami?

Shoplifting (also known as “retail theft”) is a criminal offense that can lead to severe consequences, including fines, community service, a ruined reputation, and even jail time. Unfortunately, sometimes people are falsely accused of shoplifting in Miami, which can be a devastating experience.  However, it’s essential to remember that you have legal rights, and it’s possible to fight back if you were wrongly accused of shoplifting.  If you find yourself in this situation, should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fight for your rights.

It’s crucial to understand how and why wrongful arrests occur and what you can do if you are falsely accused of theft.

Reasons for Being Wrongly Accused of Shoplifting

Here are some of the specific ways and reasons people can be wrongfully accused of shoplifting:

‣  Accidental Shoplifting – Shoplifting can occur unintentionally. It’s possible to forget to pay for an item, leave it in a shopping cart, or drop it without realizing it. In such cases, you may be mistakenly accused of shoplifting, even if you didn’t intend to steal anything. This is particularly true if you are a distracted shopper, a parent with young children, or in a hurry and rushing through the store.

‣  Mistaken IdentityWhen a store employee or security guard suspects retail theft, they may try to apprehend the suspected thief. However, if they mistakenly identify you as the culprit, you may be falsely accused. This can happen if you look similar to the actual thief or are wearing similar clothing.

‣  Racial ProfilingUnfortunately, some store employees and security guards may be more likely to suspect certain people of shoplifting based on their race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. This type of bias can lead to wrongful accusations and discrimination. Racial profiling can be particularly damaging for people of color, who are disproportionately targeted for shoplifting even when they have done nothing wrong.

‣  Inadequate Security MeasuresSome stores may have inadequate security measures, such as malfunctioning alarms or a lack of surveillance cameras. This can lead to false accusations if the security personnel relies solely on their judgment. Sometimes, the store may be more interested in preventing retail theft than ensuring that innocent shoppers are not falsely accused.

‣  Overzealous Employees – Some store personnel may be overzealous in their efforts to prevent retail theft and may accuse innocent people out of suspicion or fear of getting in trouble themselves. They may watch shoppers closely, follow them around the store, or detain them without reason. Such actions can cause significant distress and humiliation, particularly in front of other customers.

Self-Checkout Shoplifting Cases

Self-checkout has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way for customers to quickly and easily pay for their purchases without having to wait in long lines. However, the use of self-checkout has also led to an increase in false accusations of shoplifting. 

One of the main ways people are falsely accused of retail theft charges using self-checkout is through scanning errors. This occurs when a barcode or RFID tag on merchandise fails to scan correctly or the weight of an item is incorrect, leading to the self-checkout machine believing that the item was not paid for. If this happens, the self-checkout machine will alert the store employee, who may suspect you of attempting to steal the item and accuse you of shoplifting.

Another way people can be falsely accused of shoplifting using self-checkout is through a mistake made by the store employee monitoring the machines. Store security employees are responsible for monitoring the self-checkout machines to ensure that customers are correctly scanning all items and paying for them. However, if the employee is distracted or not paying attention, they may mistakenly believe that an item was not scanned or paid for and accuse the customer of retail theft.

Another issue that can arise with self-checkout is that the machines can be confusing or difficult to use, particularly for older customers or people who are not familiar with the technology. This can lead to mistakes, such as accidentally failing to scan an item or scanning an item twice, which can trigger the self-checkout machine to alert the store employee and result in a false accusation of shoplifting.

Contact Us Today if You Have Been Accused of Shoplifting at the Following Stores

Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS, Publix, Kohl’s, Sephora, Whole Foods, Best Buy, Costco, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Dillards, Dollar General, Hobby Lobby, Loew’s, Kroger, Dollar Tree, Ross, Rite Aid, BJ’s, Gap, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Burlington, JC Penney, PetSmart, Bass Pro, Bath & Body Works, or any other retailer.

Importance of Video Surveillance Footage

Regardless of why a person may have been mistakenly targeted, one of the most critical pieces of evidence in a shoplifting case is often video surveillance footage. It’s common for stores to have cameras positioned throughout the store, including at the entrances and exits. However, obtaining all the footage can be challenging, especially when the store’s loss prevention employees are the only ones providing footage. The importance of obtaining all video surveillance footage, not just the portions provided by the store’s loss prevention employees, cannot be overstated. Oftentimes, the complete footage can contradict the testimony of loss prevention employees, which can be the key to showing that you were mistakenly targeted and arrested.

In some cases, stores may have video surveillance footage that they don’t want to provide to the authorities. In situations like this, it’s critical to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side who can obtain the footage through legal means. Your attorney can use subpoenas and other legal tools to obtain the footage, which can be the key to your defense. 

Successful Defense & Civil Lawsuit

Moreover, a successful defense against your criminal charge can help lay the groundwork for a civil lawsuit against the store. The disposition of the criminal case is extremely important.  If you plead guilty, no contest, or lose at trial, you will have little chance of being compensated for your false arrest.  If you were cleared of criminal charges, this could be a strong indication that you were wrongfully accused and that the store’s actions in calling the police and having you arrested caused you harm. In addition, any evidence that was gathered during your criminal case, such as witness statements or surveillance footage, can also be used in a civil lawsuit.

Because of our experience as criminal defense lawyers, we are uniquely positioned to increase your chances of a successful monetary recovery in a possible civil suit. This is primarily due to the rights you have in criminal court when you are accused of a crime. One of the most important is your right to “discovery.” Discovery is simply the evidence that exists in the case, whether it be police reports, witness statements, loss prevention reports, video surveillance, photographs, and depositions. By aggressively investigating, documenting, and analyzing the evidence, we are sometimes able to not only convince the prosecutor to drop the criminal case, but also discover persuasive evidence of innocence.  Possessing this key evidence can often time influence opposing party in a civil case to negotiate a financial settlement instead of fighting the case in court.

Falsely Accused of Shoplifting Lawsuit

If you were wrongfully accused of shoplifting, you might have grounds for a civil lawsuit against the store for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. This is because the store has a duty of care toward its customers and should take steps to ensure that they are not wrongly accused of shoplifting. If the store fails in this duty and wrongfully detains you, resulting in your arrest by a police officer, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm they cause you. This is because being accused of a crime you did not commit and labeled a shoplifter can have serious consequences. It can damage your reputation, cause emotional distress, and even lead to financial losses. Here are some reasons why you may be entitled to compensation for being falsely accused of shoplifting:

‣  Emotional Distress – Being wrongfully accused of shoplifting can be a traumatic experience. It can cause feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, and humiliation. It can also lead to a loss of trust in society and damage your relationships. These emotional harms are recognized in the legal system, and you may be able to claim compensation for them in a civil lawsuit.

‣  Loss of Income – If you were arrested for shoplifting, it might have caused you to miss work or lose your job. This can lead to financial losses and cause ongoing harm to your future earning potential. You may be able to claim compensation for these losses in a civil lawsuit.

‣  Damage to Reputation – Shoplifting accusations can be embarrassing and damage your reputation in the community. It can lead to gossip, rumors, and a loss of respect. Sometimes, it can even make it difficult to find employment or housing. You may be able to claim compensation for damage to your reputation in a civil lawsuit.

‣  Legal Fees – If you hire a criminal defense attorney to defend you against a shoplifting charge, you may incur significant legal fees. These fees can be a significant financial burden, especially if you were falsely accused. You may be able to claim compensation for these fees in a civil lawsuit.

‣  Other Expenses – There may be other expenses associated with being falsely accused of retail theft, such as travel expenses, medical bills, or counseling fees. You may be able to claim compensation for these expenses in a civil lawsuit.

In a civil lawsuit, you can seek compensation for these and other harms caused by the false shoplifting accusation. A wrongful arrest lawyer can help you determine the appropriate compensation to seek in your false arrest lawsuit and work to ensure that you receive a fair settlement or judgment.

Contact an Experienced Miami Shoplifting Attorney

Being falsely accused of shoplifting is a traumatic experience that can lead to severe consequences. That is why it is so important to an experienced Miami shoplifting attorney from the very beginning of your case to make sure your rights are protected. They can help obtain all the necessary evidence, including video surveillance footage, which can contradict the testimony of loss prevention employees and be the key to showing that you were mistakenly targeted. By retaining an attorney immediately, you will not only increase the chances of a favorable outcome in your criminal case but also lay the groundwork for the possibility of financial compensation for the damages you suffered. Remember, you have legal rights, and it’s possible to fight back if you were wrongly accused of shoplifting. Contact our law firm today to learn how we can help you fight for justice.

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*Due to the large number of people who contact us requesting our assistance, it is strongly suggested that you take the time to provide us with specific details regarding your case by filling out our confidential and secure intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry in a timely and appropriate manner.