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What evidence is needed to make a shoplifting arrest?

Simpsonville, SC |

My son was arrested for shoplifting Thursday night. The arrest was made several miles from the store, he had NO stolen items in his car or on his person, and the store videos did not show him take anything. (And there are cameras all over the store.) The only "evidence" was the store clerk saying he saw my son steal something.
I am wondering if this was enough to actually arrest him? I guess my question is, what constitutes probable cause in a shoplifting case?
I can provide more details, if needed. I'm just trying to keep this to the point.

Attorney Answers 1


Probable cause is a very low standard. All it requires is a minimum showing that there may be evidence of a crime having been committed. The actual proof at trial is another matter. That will require evidence which will prove beyond a reasnable doubt that your son committed the crime for which he is charged.

If your son is charged with a misdemeanor, then you should gather all of the evidence that you have to prove his innocence and demand a jury trial. He needs to aggressively defend himself and not give in to any pressure to settle with some alternative such as community service or deferred judgment or PTI.

If your son is charged with a felony, then he has the ruight to have a probable cause hearing and it must be demanded in writing within ten days of receiving written notice of the right to do so.

A shoplifting conviction, no matter how small, WILL have an adverse effect on him for a very long time.

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This message is for informational purposes only, is not confidential, and is not intended as legal advice. No attorney client relationship exists between the lawyer and questioner. In order for an attorney client relationship to exist, you must seek the counsel of an attorney in the state where you reside or the legal dispute exists and enter into a representation agreement for the specific matter concerned.

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