Asked in Criminal Law for Kentucky

Q: Walmart it’s self doesn’t persecute shoplifters but they definitely arrest people who steal they send it over to the

sheriffs office for you to be arrested right?!

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jonathan Hodge
Jonathan Hodge
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Louisville, KY
  • Licensed in Kentucky

A: Persecute - I hope not. I think you're talking about prosecution of a shoplifting offense. Let's examine a chain of events for a standard shoplifting charge: Retail personnel observe suspicious activity and alert the store's loss prevention personnel or the police that merchandise has been or is being shoplifted. If loss prevention is involved, these representatives of the store will attempt to delay the exit or ask a suspect to accompany them to an office until law enforcement arrives. When the police (e.g. a sheriff) arrive, they will make an arrest. Following arrest and processing of the offender, "booking," the prosecutor, a lawyer for the government, will file shoplifting charges against the offender and prosecute the offender for the retailer, Walmart in your scenario. The prosecution will be handled in the courts and overseen by a judge.

The retailer can neither make an arrest nor prosecute the offender. These tasks are handled by law enforcement and a prosecutor.

Incidentally, in Kentucky many retailers are notorious for seeking civil damages from a defendant after the criminal matter has concluded under KRS 411.095. It has my been my experience they will seek these damages even when merchandise was never removed from the store.

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