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How can I prove I did not shoplift if the PD took my receipts, proving I returned item in question?

Northampton, MA |

In May I was called to the PD to answer to being accused of shoplifting. I had taken an item, then returned it and the store gave me a receipt stating item was returned. I gave this proof to the PD when I met with them in May. PD says, that I can go as I have proven where the item in question is. Officer said he needed receipts to report back to Walmart.I think nothing of it and go about my life.
This morning (4 months later) I get a summons in the mail for shoplifting from May? I called PD, Officer is out till tomorrow. I requested my originals or at least copies of my receipts and the police report with the affidavit. I called store in question, and was told to call back later. I called the store I returned the item at and their Loss Prevention Dept is not in till Monday.

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    You should consult an attorney regarding this matter, rather than trying to explore further on your own. In the course of trying to get a police officer or loss-prevention officer on the phone, you could make statements that could hurt your case. An attorney could simply summons the receipts to the show-cause hearing.

    However, from your question it appears that you stole something ("I had taken an item") and then returned it later. Having returned the stolen goods, while it might be morally laudable, does not undo the crime of shoplifting. If anything, it may be taken as an admission to the crime.

    The good news is that, if it's a first offense, you can't go to jail for shoplifting. The bad news is that it is a criminal charge, which is always a serious matter. Most attorneys offer free consultations, and you should really take advantage of that service before going into a clerk's hearing or making any further contact with the police or the store.

    Questions and answers on Avvo are not confidential and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. Do not post confidential informaiton on a public forum.


  2. Good Luck. The cop should have put that in evidence, but if he didn't you are in trouble.


  3. I agree with Attorney Cowan. You should absolutely stop doing any further investigation on your own. It is easy to make statements to cops that come back to bite you later. And he is right, the fact that you returned the item does not undo the original crime of shoplifting. Speak to a lawyer right away. Most of us give free initial consultations.

    Attorney Lauren Craig Redmond ~ 617.953.6116 ~ No attorney/client relationship is established or implied by any email or phone conversation.


  4. the store should also have copies of your receipts

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  5. I guess I'm confused. It sounds like you DID take an item, and then when you were called out for it, took it back to the store and the store acknowledged that they received it back by giving you a receipt. If that's true, then you basically have already admitted to shoplifting. It's not up to the store whether or not to prosecute you for that, it's up to the police. The fact that you after-the-fact returned the item is further proof that you took it to begin with. Just because the item was recovered does not mean that it wasn't taken (shoplifted) to begin with! In fact, most times, when charges are filed, the person has either not left the store or has just left the store with the item, and the item is recovered with the tags still intact. It doesn't absolve you of responsibility just because they have the merchandise back.

    If this is your first encounter with the criminal system, I suggest that you get in touch with an attorney to see if he can get you a "second chance" to avoid a criminal record. You should have received a summons to a clerk-magistrate hearing, and that will be your opportunity to avoid having a criminal complaint issued.

    Good luck!

    Providing users with information is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. However, if in reading my response, you are interested in retaining me to represent you, please do not hesitate to contact me.


  6. Stop being your own lawyer. I have supplied some links below with more information on shoplifting and clerk's hearings.

    This is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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