What is the best way to handle a shoplifting chargefor merchandise worthless than $100?

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What is the best way to handle a shoplifting chargefor merchandise worthless than $100?

I was at the mall the other day. After leaving the store I was stopped by the store’s security who asked to search my pocketbook. I said no you cannot. He then proceeded with force to take my bag while the other guy pulled me back in the store and took me to the back. He searched my bag and found merchandise totalling $92. The police came and I was charged and now I’m waiting for a letter with my court date. My question is whether the guys were within their rights with the way they handled the situation, and if so, what are my best options in trying to fight this case and not have this on my record? Should I speak to a criminal defense attorney? I’m in Baltimore County, MD

Asked on September 1, 2010 under Criminal Law, Maryland

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Certainly the security should not have used excessive force to restrain you to search your pocket book.  However, if they had probable cause to search your bad, it is unclear that the manner may have anything to do to help you with the outcome.  You have been found to have shoplifted.  "Shoplifting" is generally a Petty Theft charge on most states.  In Maryland it appears to only be called "theft" and the amount here matters.  Under $100 - which is where you fall - the maximum time in jail would be 90 days.  To me one day is too much.  So I would suggest that you get a lawyer as soon as you can.  If convicted yes, it will be on your record.  You need to ask the attorney about expungement too.  Good luck.


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