Georgia department stores and other shopping locations are permitted to detain suspected shoplifters whom they believe pose a threat to the store under certain circumstances. Stores, for example, can apprehend and hold an individual they suspect of stealing until authorities arrive to assess the situation.
That said, the detainment of the suspected shoplifter has to be reasonable, both in manner and in length. The use of unreasonable force, for example, could create a liability issue for the store. Also, a detainment that happens without probable cause, or for too much time, creates the environment in which a false imprisonment claim could take hold.
Did sufficient probable cause exist for your detainment?
The department store needs to have more than just a suspicion that you shoplifted to detain you. The store needs to have actual evidence of the shoplifting — evidence that would cause a reasonable individual to believe that a theft was happening. Evidence might be that the person had unpaid for items in his or her bag and pockets while leaving exiting the store.
Let’s imagine for a second that, in your case, you had a large backpack and big pockets. For whatever reason, you appeared suspicious to a Georgia department store. A security guard questioned you and detained you for suspected shoplifting. However, once the security guard and management looked through your bag and pockets, they found nothing inside to indicate that you shoplifted.
In this case, the store has no right to detain you. If it does, you might be able to pursue a false imprisonment claim against the store and hold it liable for any financial damages related to your detainment.
Get legal help to defend yourself against shoplifting charges
Atlanta residents accused of shoplifting will remain innocent of the charges until, and only if, they are proved to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court. Until that moment, accused persons will have every right to defend themselves with the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. Furthermore, they will not face any criminal punishment related to the accusations unless a conviction occurs.
Source: Nov. 30, -0001