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Legislation may affect shoplifting cases

Times are changing, and Georgia residents do their best to keep up with all the new laws and proposed legislation in the Peach State. Recently, citizens have called upon lawmakers to change the rules regarding citizens arrests. Changes could affect the way shoplifting accusations are handled. 

Currently, if a retail establishment suspects a customer has shoplifted, the store employees are legally allowed to detain the individual until law enforcement arrives. Sometimes, a person may have to wait a long time until the police arrive to handle the case. Even a person that did not actually commit a crime may be held in the store until police can make it to the scene. 

Some people suggest that the law be changed to prevent regular citizens from detaining their fellow Georgians with the exceptions of home invasion and shoplifting. This could wind up confusing for the average person trying to determine if he or she is being legally detained after an accusation of shoplifting. Current law provides proprietors the option to detain an individual suspected of shoplifting, but only police can charge a shopper with a crime. 

If a person is detained in the store due to an accusation of shoplifting, he or she can immediately contact a lawyer, even before police arrive. A lawyer can help a client understand his or her rights under the current circumstances. If police arrive and feel there is evidence to support a charge, a lawyer can help a client through the court process. An accusation is not an indication of guilt, and the prosecution must be able to provide concrete evidence. A defense attorney can help a Georgia client use fact and accurate testimony to aim for a favorable verdict.