What are my rights if I am a minor and a friend and I were detained, questioned, grabbed and searched on suspicion of shoplifting?

We did put some unpaid merchandise into our purses while in the dressing rooms but two loss prevention agents followed us out of the store and confiscated our phones and purses and pushed and shoved us into a room and locked us in there for hours. They searched our bags and our bodies. We were alone with the 2 agents and they interrogated us. Since we did not have any legal representation or any parent present, were their actions illegal? Can I sue the company for detaining and searching us without a warrant?

Asked on July 29, 2014 under Criminal Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The store has a shopkeeper's privilege to use reasonable non-deadly force to detain and search you for investigation of shoplifting.  Therefore, it is unlikely that you would prevail in a lawsuit against the store.  Also, as a minor, you would not be able to file a lawsuit yourself, but would need to have your parent or guardian file a lawsuit on your behalf.

The store does not need a warrant to detain and search you for shoplifting and there isn't any requirement that you have legal representation while being investigated for shoplifting under these circumstances.

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