Are there any laws about accidental shoplifting? 3 Answers as of February 24, 2012

I have a few questions. My friend was detained at Macy's for shoplifting. The 4 security officers grabbed her without telling her or asking her anything. Is it illegal to detain someone without asking to see her bags or telling her what she is suspected off? She also doesn't speak much English so when she was detained she wasn't able to communicate to the security officers and was not told what she was being detained for. My other friend who did speak English was not allowed to speak with her and was not given an answer as to why she was being detained. Are there any laws that require them to get her a translator? She was detained at Macy's for 3 hours without someone to explain to her what was going on. Once she understood, she wasn't able to communicate her side of the story. She didn't intend on shoplifting. She was shopping and suddenly realized she didn't have her purse. So she stuffed everything she was holding into one bag. All the items were her's except one which she intended to purchase after shopping some more. Once she was able to locate her purse, she continued shopping and proceeded to pay for her purchases but she had forgotten about the one item unpaid for in the bag with her other belongings. My next question is, are there any laws about accidental shoplifting? She did have the money to pay for it and did intend to pay for it but had forgotten about it.

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Brucar & Yetter, P.C.
Brucar & Yetter, P.C. | Wayne Brucar
There is no such thing as accidental shoplifting. You either did or you didn't. Based on what you describe, she may have a defense to the charge at trial.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 2/24/2012
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
There is no such thing as accidental shoplifting. Obviously, cameras located in the store picked her out, and she was tracked by a loss prevention associate, and as she was leaving the premises, after the last point of purchase available to her, they apprehended her. As she was not arrested until later, she did not have to be given her rights, and it was not necessary for Macy to provide a translator. Once the police were summoned and she was formally arrested, she should have beeen read her rights. She definitely should hire a good defense attorney to represent her in court, and ask for a trial, there is a good chance that the charges will be dismissed at that point, if she can establish that she had no intention of stealing the item which was taken. This will beecome an issue for the trier of fact to determine. I would strongly suggest she have any witneses with her and ready to testify when the matter is set down for trial.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 2/24/2012
Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
This is a mess. The bottom line is that the State must prove that your friend knowingly exerted control over the merchandise in order to permanently deprive the store of it. An accurate legal opinion cannot be rendered until an attorney fully interviews her and you and investigates any available police reports, store reports, video, or other evidence.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 2/24/2012
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