What do i do when i was wrongfully accused of shoplifting at winco?

Asked about 1 year ago - Bremerton, WA

security man accused me of taking a .99 cent b 12 drink. he said step back inside if you are not guilty. i did.because i knew i was not guilty of taking anything. and i had nothing on me.he was very rude as though he was trying to aggravate me into confession.i would not confess and he called in a policeman. the policeman said to sign this paper and take care of it tomorrow. i did. . .when i got home and showed my wife she said it was an admission of guilt.and a $200 fine i have been trying to call risk management and anyone i could. the automated messages say basically get a hold of lose management and they say i am not to contact winco in anyway about a shoplifting charge.i did not shoplift and i only signed because the cop said to.i do not know what to do. what should i do?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Thuong-Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . "what should i do?" In the future, do not sign anything that you have not read or do not understand.

    Now, start calling criminal law defense attorneys to interview them and hire one. If you are low income by local standards, you likely qualify for a public defender who is an attorney paid by the government.

    Until you are charged with a criminal law offense, you cannot get a public defender appointed to represent you.

    You likely will get a letter from the store's attorney's office offering to settle the civil case the store has against you if you pay some money (between $100 and $600). Under WA laws, a store can sue an alleged shoplifter. If the store wins, the judgment against the shoplifter can be several thousand dollars (mostly because of attorney's fees).

    The offices that send out these civil demand letters very rarely sue persons who not pay. However, WA has a compromise of misdemeanor process through which payment of the civil demand may result in a dismissal of the criminal law charge.

    In some cases, a person wrongfully accused of shoplifting has a strong case to sue the store.

    You likely received a notice stating that you are to out of the store for a certain number of years. If you do not comply with the notice, you can face criminal law charges whether or not you shoplifted.

    You likely should stop calling the store.

    You should review the specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.

  2. Stan Glisson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree, you probably won't get anywhere trying to talk to loss prevention. Since you signed that document, in their minds you did it and they will not discuss it further with you.
    Also, because you signed the form, you have probably already agreed to pay their "civil penalty". An attorney can probably negotiate it down for you, but most of those forms contain an agreement to pay. I would have to look at it to know for sure. If it did, they could send it to collections and make it more expensive, and damage your credit.
    Hiring an attorney in your area is probably the best thing you can do to protect your record.

  3. James Donald Garrett

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Stop trying to contact the people who are looking to either prosecute you or extort you. Contact a criminal attorney immediately.

    I am licensed to practice criminal and DUI law in VA, not WA. As such, I may be unaware of certain state laws; and therefore, my response may be incorrect or inappropriate. Please use my response for informational purposes only.

    Good luck.

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