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Are shoplifting searches ever illegal?
Searches of suspected shoplifters occur all the time, most commonly as part of a store's protocol if a bag sets off the alarm for some reason. Usually, customers don't object to them if they have nothing to hide.
But business owners beware: Some types of searches can potentially be considered illegal. Here are some general guidelines:
One legal concept that allows merchants and business owners to conduct searches and then detain suspected shoplifters for a short period of time is called the shopkeeper's privilege.
Courts generally consider a variety of factors in determining liability for a false imprisonment claim, such as:
The big, determining factor that courts will use to assess your liability is, as you can see, whether or not your actions were reasonable. There is no concise definition for what reasonable is, so the safest bet is to act as cautiously as possible if you think that you are dealing with a possible shoplifter.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.