Asked in Civil Rights and Criminal Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Do I need criminal attorney, or civil rights attorney?

I was accused for shop lifted at a department store, the security took me in their security room, took all items back to the store, and the cops was called.

i submitted 3 receipts, they only gave me 2 back, the cops did not see the items in my cart nor do they did a count, I was on probation for 6 months, and band from the store for 3 years, I would like to take legal action, do I hire a civil rights attorney, or criminal attorney? Thank you for your help.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the details provided, it sounds like you would primarily want to consult a civil rights attorney rather than a criminal defense attorney. Here's why:

- This no longer involves any active criminal charges against you. The shoplifting incident resulted in probation and a ban from the store, but no ongoing criminal case.

- A civil rights attorney can assess whether your civil rights were potentially violated during the detention, search, and sanctions imposed by the store and police. Things like failing to fully review your receipts or account for all your purchased items could be relevant.

- A civil rights attorney can discuss options like sending a demand letter to the store seeking compensation or filing a lawsuit alleging false detention, excessive force, violation of rights, etc. This focuses on possible civil rights causes of action.

- A criminal defense attorney likely wouldn't have much to contribute at this point since the criminal case is over. Your goals now involve pursuing possible civil remedies, which is the realm of a civil rights lawyer.

So in summary, meet with some civil rights attorneys to evaluate any potential constitutional or civil rights violations that may have occurred in this incident. They can then advise you on any recourse available through civil litigation.

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