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Arrested for theft, but I paid for all my goods When is it theft?

San Jose, CA |

I was shopping in a big store, I didn't have a basket and put items i had in my pockets (I had 5 items in total just under $100).
I went to the checkout and removed the items from my pocket all of them and paid for them. The cashier called manager and security after I have paid for them and got my change back and proof of payment. The manager arrested me and security officer assisted by hold me and calling me a theft. The manager removed my wallet from my pocket and said I'm taking your ID for our check while your under arrest. I inform them I had paid for all my goods and they checked. Which all were paid for, but they said as I put them in my pocket this was theft even if I paid for them. After taking my details, they release me and informed me criminal charges will be filed

I have the receipt and I paid by debit card so more proof I paid. They say as I put the items in my pocket this amount to theft even as I have paid for them. I argued this point say if I paid for all my goods this is not theft. They disagree. They admit all items have been paid for but my actions before I paid for them amounts to theft even tho I didn't leave the store or go pass the check out. They even written this in a civil notice letter they gave me, said all items paid for at check out but action before check out amounts to pretty theft and will be filed with police. They informed me before I left that police had been call and charges will be filed.

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Attorney answers 4


Where is your receipt? Which items are they claiming you didn't pay for? You may have two actions here civil and criminal. I suggest contacting an attorney to straighten out this situation before it gets further out of hand. It will cost you less in the long run to start the process today. Many reputable attorneys offer a free consultation. Start calling today.

The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.


Consult with a good local criminal law attorney. You may have a defense to this retail theft allegation. Do not post additional facts about the incident on this website or any other public website. If contacted by the police suggest you be polite but not discuss or admit anything - tell them on advice of counsel - and then, if you haven't already, contact a criminal attorney.

This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


Understand putting anything in your pocket, purse, backpack, or other belonging at a store prior to your paying for them is never a good idea. You can be found guilty of a theft just by placing an item in your pocket at the store without paying for it. What the prosecutor will claim if they file charges is that you made the theft and then prior to leaving the store you changed you mind and decided to pay for the items. The fact you paid for them will be beneficial. It does not appear that the police were contacted. Do not pay a civil demand letter if you get one and talk to a local attorney.
Robert Driessen

Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at


I agree with my colleagues. Do not pay any civil demand letter you might receive. Get an attorney,
Use a basket to carry your goods.