Suspected of Shoplifting? Know Your Rights!

man shoplifting alcoholHave you ever been detained in a store by a security officer? Did that officer use excessive force? It is important to know your rights if you have been apprehended and accused of shoplifting, whether the allegations are true or not.

When an individual is suspected of shoplifting in a retail store, he or she is likely to be detained by security or the store owner. In Louisiana, this detention may not exceed sixty minutes. Although the store personnel may keep the shoplifter detained for a reasonable time until the police arrive or the situation is resolved, the detainee has the right to remain silent and does not have to sign an admission of guilt.

In order for a retailer to avoid liability after apprehending a shoplifter, they must have probable cause for the stop, never use excessive force, and detain the suspect for a reasonable time. Most businesses have strict policies and training in place to avoid situations like this. But, often times suspected shoplifters still experience excessive force which causes them to sustain injuries. This may lead to a lawsuit against the retailer. secuitry guard

Even when making the detention, security or the shop owner must use reasonable, nondeadly force. The main purpose in the use of force is to obtain and maintain control. This means that they may take measures to protect themselves and to keep you from escaping, but they may not unjustly harm you. It is not acceptable for a loss prevention officer to unreasonably tackle, punch, kick or verbally abuse you. However, if you grow agitated and attempt to assault the security guard, they may then use a proportional amount of force to protect themselves and those around you.

Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 215 outlines what may be done during the detention and arrest of shoplifters. All peace officers, merchants, or other specifically authorized employees must abide by this provision when making a lawful detention and possible arrest.

The most common instances in which a retailer becomes liable for security using excessive force on a suspected shoplifter include:

handcuffing shoplifter

• Teaming up with other security guards when only one officer was necessary to detain the suspect
• Excessively tightening the handcuffs
• Putting the suspect in a chokehold or joint lock
• Tackling a customer to the ground which may result in head and brain injuries
• Engaging in a physical altercation with the suspect
• Unnecessarily involving a weapon or dangerous device during the detention, especially when suspect is unarmed


Some resulting injuries are so severe that it may alter the suspect’s entire life. Either they become permanently disabled and are unable to live their normal everyday life as before, or they cannot continue their profession due to their injuries.

If you are successful in your lawsuit against the retailer, you may be entitled to damages. This includes compensation for any past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, emotional distress, etc.

If you or a loved one has been detained by a loss prevention officer who used excessive force, contact a personal injury attorney today. PHONE CARDONE at 504-522-3333 or email us at for a free consultation.

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