Question: I was arrested for shoplifting in Atlanta because a store said that I took tags from one cheap jacket and put it on another jacket that was far more expensive. I was in the store and I was looking at a bunch of jackets to buy. I tried some on and I took a pretty long time doing it. I just wanted to make sure that I liked the jacket a lot because they were all pretty expensive and I didn’t want to make a mistake and buy something I didn’t truly like.
After spending probably well over an hour looking at different designer jackets I went to the cashier to buy one. I felt like there was something wrong because the lady at the register left to speak to what I think was a store manager and I could see them whispering and looking at me. When she came back she was with a couple of men who said they wanted to talk to me. The men were store security.
They accused me of changing the tags on the clothes to save several hundred dollars, but I never left the store. They said I did it to get the better and more expensive jacket cheaply. I got arrested by the Atlanta Police Department and they took me to jail and I had to get a bond.
My mom and dad were mad and they said I was a thief. But the thing is, I didn’t switch the tags. I think someone else did. Is that a defense to shoplifting?
R.H. in Sandy Springs, GA
Answer: That may very well be a good defense to a shoplifting charge. If you were not the individual who switched the price tags, but were just someone who innocently tried to purchase a jacket, that would be a defense to shoplifting. In that case, you did nothing wrong, nothing illegal under Georgia law. How were you to know that someone had switched the tags?
We would have to investigate to determine what evidence, if any, links you to the alleged shoplifting. We would want to know if anyone saw you switching the price tags or if there is any video that captured images of you doing so. Basically, we would want to know why they think you committed a crime, either a felony or a misdemeanor.
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