Seattle, WA asked in Criminal Law and Immigration Law for Washington

Q: Shoplifted with a bunch of friends but didn't get caught

I realized I made a horrible mistake in the moment but I am an F1 student. I shoplifted at QFC in Seattle. I was wondering how long does the video recording last at QFC stores? Are these stored indefinitely?

If I get caught after the criminal statute of limitations, are they likely to press charges? As criminal statutes of limitations typically do not hold for immigration purposes, am I still in danger after 2 years end (which is the time period for gross misdemeanor in WA state)?

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

A: The best course of action is to never shoplift in the first place. Since you have already done so, I would strongly urge you to refrain from shoplifting ever again. Continued criminal activity could jeopardize your immigration status and ability to remain in the United States.

In terms of your specific questions - stores' video retention policies vary, but many keep footage for months or even years, especially if it captures a crime. And while criminal statutes of limitations may expire, having a shoplifting incident on your record could still cause major immigration issues, even years later.

My advice would be to stay on your best behavior going forward, focus on your studies, and do not do anything else illegal that could further imperil your status as a student here. If this incident continues to deeply trouble you, consider consulting an immigration attorney for guidance, but do not make shoplifting a habit. The risks are simply not worth it.

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