An Ohio woman who was initially detained on charges related to alleged shoplifting was also charged with several drug offenses after police searched her purse.
According to reports, the woman took an item of merchandise without paying for it as she was leaving the Wal Mart store. Apparently, someone who worked for Wal Mart managed to keep the woman in the vicinity until local police showed up.
Police say that upon arrival, they found drug paraphernalia, as well as methamphetamine and a prescription pill, in the woman’s purse. According to police, she also had an outstanding warrant for missing a court date.
Although it’s probably a fairly common affair, at least in the world of law enforcement, to arrest people for shoplifting, the drug crimes charges this woman faces are serious. A prescription drug violation, for instance can land a person in prison or on probation with stiff fines and strict terms.
While this woman’s available defenses will depend on the details of her case, this story illustrates an important point in that special rules and laws apply when store security takes the initial steps to detain a shoplifter.
Although they may have some authority to stop a shoplifter, store security officers are not police. Thus, there may be several questions, such as whether store security exceeded authority when they detain a customer or, even more so, rifle through a customer’s belongings.
These sorts of cases are rarely open-and-shut and may have a lot of complexities involved. Given the possibility of harsh penalties even for simple drug possession, a person accused will want to evaluate all of her legal options.