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Are People Arrested On The Spot In Theft-Related Scenarios?


Not always. If a security guard or a policeman at Wal-Mart sees or is alerted to someone that is potentially shoplifting, typically, that person will be detained; even a Wal-Mart security guard has the ability to detain a potential shoplifter until the police arrive. So if it’s happening, they see it and loss prevention can attend to it immediately, they will detain the suspect. However, if a shoplift turns into a potential armed robbery, then they are going to call the police and let them deal with it and not try to detain the customer.

In a lot of these organized retail theft cases, they actually wind up being investigated very thoroughly: security footage is viewed, sometimes stakeouts are performed, and arrests may not be made until several different thefts have occurred at different places. It really just depends if it’s one person shoplifting or if it’s a more organized group of people committing the thefts as to whether there is going to be an immediate arrest or maybe an investigation to try and determine where these people are going to strike next.

Can Someone Accompanying A Potential Theft Offender Also Be Charged With Theft?

Yes, an individual could definitely be charged, as an accomplice to a crime, even if they don’t commit the actual crime. Typically, if the individual had absolutely no knowledge of what was happening and that the other person stole something, it would be hard for the state to prosecute someone like that because they just didn’t have any criminal intent and were an innocent bystander.

Even if you didn’t commit the theft but were helping a friend keep an eye out or you became aware that a friend was doing something like that and didn’t report it, then you essentially become an accomplice, after the fact, by leaving the establishment with the individual or maybe even benefiting from the theft. If this is the case, then you are definitely going to be prosecuted under accomplice liability.

How Can Someone Properly Return Stolen Property?

Returning stolen property, if you were the individual that stole the property, still doesn’t eliminate the original crime of the theft having occurred. Now, returning stolen property, where the individual knows it’s stolen but didn’t commit the original theft, would be hard to prosecute as a crime. There is a theft in that you are essentially in possession of stolen goods. But if the only way the individual came to be in possession of those goods immediately triggered a call to law enforcement or an attempt to bring that merchandise back to the store, it would be hard to prosecute him or her. Now, if the individual didn’t commit the original theft and attempted to return the merchandise for cash, credit or some benefit, that essentially works just like a theft.

Theft rings here in Phoenix were stealing large amounts of baby formula because it’s very valuable on the resale market, and I had a former client, who was returning the baby formula at different stores to get larger amounts of cash or credit as a return and was caught during that process and subsequently charged with theft, as well, because they were still trying to steal or take some type of financial benefit earned from that store or establishment.

What Steps Should Someone Take When Facing Theft Charges In Arizona?

Much like any other criminal case, it’s best to use your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. Once the police start talking to you or investigating the case, they are going to try to build a lot of their case on the potential statements and admissions from the interview.

Once an arrest occurs, the first thing someone needs to start thinking about is, “I need the assistance of an attorney.” While people are often thinking about a lot of other things, that’s really the most important thing at that time, and it’s not something to think about after you’ve spoken to the police or you’ve bonded out; you really need the assistance of counsel immediately following an arrest. There is a lot of stuff going on right at the beginning, including whether questions are going to be answered and what type of bond is going to be imposed on you by the judge.

For more information on Getting Arrested On A Theft Charge, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (602) 456-1982 today.

Jared Allen, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (602) 456-1982.

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