Shoplifting In Alpharetta, GA: What about Miranda rights?

Question: My daughter was arrested at the North Point Mall in Alpharetta and I wanted to write to you for some guidance. She was with two friends at the mall and they ate lunch and they went into stores just to look around and maybe buy something. When they went to a clothing store my daughter and one of the other girls tried to steal a shirt and a belt. They were caught by the store security and the store called the police. When the Alpharetta police got there my daughter apologized and said she'd never steal anything ever again. The other girl also admitted what she did.

The stuff they tried to steal is worth less than $100.00 combined.

When I asked my daughter if she the Miranda rights read to her she said she didn't remember anyone doing that. She didn't think her rights were read, but she wasn't totally sure.

This is her first shoplifting arrest and I don't want her getting into trouble because of it and I don't want it to ruin her life because she's in college at Georgia State and wants to work in the legal or medical field. She has good grades and she really isn't a thief.

Can you please tell me if she needed to be read her Miranda rights by the Alpharetta police after she was arrested for a shoplifting charge?

P.B. in Dunwoody, Georgia

Answer: The police and prosecutors may not need a confession or any kind of statement to get a conviction for shoplifting. Most of the time a person is observed taking merchandise and walking out of the store without paying for it. In that type of situation, there is no need for a confession or other verbal evidence to gain a conviction for shoplifting.

Of course, some criminal law prosecutions rely upon statements by an accused to get a conviction. In the case of Miranda v. Arizona, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a confession could only be admissible under the Fifth Amendment's self-incrimination clause and the Sixth Amendment's right to an attorney if a suspect had been made aware of his rights and the suspect had then waived them prior to interrogation.

Under Georgia law, if the merchandise stolen is valued at less than $500.00, then it is considered a misdemeanor. If the merchandise is valued at $500.00 or more, then it is a felony. Because your daughter allegedly tried to shoplift goods valued below $500.00 then her charge will be a misdemeanor and it will be heard in the Alpharetta Municipal Court.

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