Pleading not guilty to a shoplifting charge I received a couple months ago. When I was about to leave the store with a bottle of $6.00 makeup remover (going through closing doors) I was stopped by a man who asked if product was my hand, I said yes and he asked for a receipt, which I didint have; to that he asked what cashier I went to, pointing to a cashier, he went to grab my arm to talk to them, saying no; I gave him the product and said if you don't believe me,I don't even want it. As I proceeded to leave he stopped me saying I had to go with him, I didn't agree and kept leaving; resulting in him grabbing my arm, so I ran. All around people were chasing me, I eventually got tackled down and escorted to the back. I didn't even have the product when I left the store. And l feel assaulted.
Please contact a criminal defense attorney to handle this situation. There are no guarantees in court, even if you have an attorney. However, it is wise to handle this with an attorney. An attorney can talk to a prosecutor without creating evidence. What does that mean? When you negotiate with a prosecutor, each word that you utter can be recorded and used against you. However, your attorney can say the exact same words and none of them can be used against you.
The only advice I can really give is that you need to hire an attorney. I am providing this post as a general statement related to a general question. Your case involves specific facts which have not been provided. You deserve complete answers which cannot be given through this forum. Please realize that until you sit down with an attorney and answer that attorney's specific questions regarding your case, you should not rely on any answers posted in this forum. This answer does not create an attorney client relationship.
Under Utah law, a merchant's employee who has reasonable grounds to believe that goods held for sale by the merchant have been taken by a person with intent to steal may, for the purpose of investigating the unlawful act and attempting to recovery the goods, can detain the person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time. Utah Code 77-7-12. Laws of this sort are commonly referred to as a "shopkeeper's privilege." In other words, the Harmon's employee (assuming he was an employee) may have been allowed to detain you for suspected shoplifting so long as he had cause to believe you had actually shoplifted. However, the length of that detention must also have been for a reasonable amount of time.
In your situation, one of the things a court would look to is whether the man's action's were "reasonable," both in terms of his grounds for detaining you in the first place, and in terms of how long you were detained. As one of my colleagues answered above, you should consult an attorney to further discuss your case.
You're putting the cart before the horse here. While you may feel their actions were not justified, you first need to worry about the shoplifting charge. The Harmon's employee's actions are predicated upon the belief that you were committing a theft of store merchandise. You need to resolve the criminal case first. If you did actually pay for the merchandise, and did not commit a theft, you will need to vigorously pursue defending yourself in court. This may mean going to trial to establish your innocence. If you accept any type of plea deal, you can forget any type of civil suit against Harmon's for excessive force, assault, or anything else. If you are found guilty or accept a plea deal that means the employee's actions are justified in detaining you as a shoplifter. If you do not have a criminal defense attorney, you need to retain one quickly.
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