CanI becharged as a shofliftingaccomplice if a store found incriminating text messages on the other party’s cell phone?

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CanI becharged as a shofliftingaccomplice if a store found incriminating text messages on the other party’s cell phone?

My friend got arrested for shoplifting last weekend. When they took her to the police station, they went through all her texts. Unfortunately I was texting her and the messages appear incriminating. They suggest that I knew and participated in this with her. The store is taking her to court and they have my name as well . I only walked through the store to get to the parking lot that day. I did not stop to look or touch anything. Can they use these messages against me or her and can they charge me with something? If so, when would I be notified and what consequences am I looking at?

Asked on March 30, 2011 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, you did not indicate what was said but if they were incriminating, were they incriminating because they indicated she stole items and you agreed to it or did they indicate she stole something and you instructed her how to do it? They are most certainly incriminating for her if it means her (whether she wrote it or you did) that she stole something. Whether they can be used against her will depend on the experience of the prosecutor and whether they will be used directly as evidence or used indirectly to impeach her character.  As to you, if the prosecutor has enough evidence in those texts and otherwise to obtain a warrant for your arrest, you need to make sure you show your attorney all of those texts. They can also be used against you if the prosecutor deems this theft a part of a conspiracy or you helped her hide the stolen items. 


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