Should I plead guilty and pay the fine, or not guilty and go infront of the judge?

UPDATED: May 26, 2009

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Should I plead guilty and pay the fine, or not guilty and go infront of the judge?

I was arrested for shoplifting. I put items in my purse, but changed my mind & put them inside a dressing room. When I went to leave they stopped me, but found nothing on me. They said they saw me on camera and the fact that I was going to steal them was enough to arrest me.

Asked on May 26, 2009 under Criminal Law, Georgia


L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

If a store employee or owner of a business suspects a person of stealing from the store, they have a right to detain the person until police show up. While waiting for law enforcement, they can conduct their own investigation to see if there was an attempt to steal something from their store. However, this investigation should be done in a reasonable fashion and must be immediate.

The store’s employee or business owner cannot look or reach inside of a person’s concealed bag or purse or search the person unless they actually saw them steal something and hide it. If another customer or employee alerted them to the matter, the item would have to be in plain view.

It is also the responsibility of the merchant to let the person go if nothing was actually stolen. I would recommend you get a shoplifting attorney in your state to discuss the best course of action.  It appears the store's insistance on having you arrested when you left the merchandise at the store may be a misguided attempt to save face.  Didn't they get you on camera leaving the merchandise in teh dressing room?  Talk to an attorney right away.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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