Shoplifting is a generic term used to refer to stealing goods from a merchant's store. Shoplifting is a very serious criminal offense that could carry mandatory jail time and stain your permanent record. Theft is considered a crime of moral turpitude and many employers will automatically not hire based upon a permanent conviction. Shoplifting is very serious. This is especially true in the Williamson County Courts. They do not look kindly upon people stealing from local merchants. If you or someone you know has been charged with shoplifting in Williamson County, you should contact a Tennessee shoplifting attorney who knows the laws of theft of property. More importantly, you need to contact an attorney who knows how the Williamson County courts work.
Shoplifting can be broken down into two categories. Theft under $500 is a misdemeanor and theft over $500 is a felony. Neither charge is good news because a permanent criminal conviction for theft will ruin future job prospects. In fact, I had a friend get fired from her job at a major bank because of a shoplifting charge from her college days. This charge did not show up on her initial background check but it was eventually found by human resources. She lost a very good job. This could have been avoided if she would have hired an experienced shoplifting attorney on the front end.
Penalties for shoplifting
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you still face jail time in the Williamson County Justice Center. Even if you are guilty, t is also possible to be put on probation, avoid jail, and have your record cleared. If you are innocent, you have a right to a trial and show everyone you are innocent. If you are found guilty, you will be required to pay restitution for the merchandise stolen. You will also have to pay court costs and fines. When a minor is caught stealing, the court can order restitution from the parents as a condition of probation. The biggest penalty for shoplifting is a permanent conviction. A permanent conviction could absolutely destroy future job opportunities.
Rights of the Store Merchant-Security
If a store employee or owner of a business suspects a person of stealing from his store, they have the right to detain the person until the police show up. While waiting for law enforcement, they can conduct their own investigation to see if there was an attempt to steal an item from their store. However, this investigation should be done in a reasonable and timely manner.
The store's employee or business owner cannot look or reach inside a person's concealed bag or purse unless they actually saw them steal something and hide it. Likewise, they cannot conduct a search unless they witnessed a theft. If they are alerted by another customer, they should limit their actions to only conducting an investigation and not a search. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the merchant to let the customer go if nothing is stolen. It is advisable for the merchant to limit verbal accusations in front of other customers.
If you need help with a shoplifting charge in Franklin, Williamson County, call attorney Lee Martin at 615-345-1988. With over 18 years as an attorney, he knows the Franklin court system and how to get results.