Original Article Posted by: u/JEM_10_1993, Dec 7, 2021

The crazy part about this video is that the woman does not appear to have any legitimate reason to make the accusation of theft of her phone. She appears to only base it upon her views of the accused’s race.  She then tries to cover up her mistake even when realizing that her phone was always in her purse. Unfortunately, this is all too common since a person doesn’t need evidence to make an accusation. Theft and shoplifting are just a few of the many crimes a person can be falsely accused of. 

As the level of criminal accusation increases, the higher the stakes for the accused. The accuser could be making an assumption based on their personal experiences or views, or it could be with the intent to cause damage to your reputation. In the video, it is most likely and unfortunately based upon a terrible racial stereotype that “black people steal.” This is more than unfortunate. It is a travesty how such false accusations have led to the arrest and moral and physical wounding of many people of color, especially African-American men over the years.

If you are ever in the position of the accused and wonder what to do right there on the spot, here are some easy steps to remember.

  • Try to focus on talking to the store clerk or manager rather than the accuser.
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Make eye contact with the clerk and state very calmly and clearly “I promise I did not steal anything.”
  • Without being argumentative ask, “What are the reasons you think it was me? 

If the police show up:

  • Calmly and clearly repeat, “What are the reasons you think it was me?
  • While a “Terry Pat Down” is legal, the manipulation of items in your pocket and a search of your person or property without probable cause is a violation of your rights, so…
  • Respectfully and clearly state, “I do not consent to my person or property being searched”
  • Ask, “Am I under arrest?”
  • If you are under arrest, state “I wish to speak to my attorney immediately and DO NOT waive any of my rights.”

Additionally, you can ask the store clerk to see the video. Since this may take a few minutes, be patient. Don’t talk to anyone you don’t need to, and take note of the people around you as potential witnesses.

The store staff may ask you if you mind stepping to the side, so that other shoppers can be served, but should any employee of the store try to detain through threats or confine you to a certain area of the store against your will without reasonable cause, they could be the ones breaking the law. Unlawful restraint – knowingly restraining someone’s liberty without privilege – is a misdemeanor of the third degree (ORC 2905.03. Jan.1, 2008. www.codes.oh.gov), and Abduction – removing another person from the place where they are found by force or threat (ORC2905.02) is a felony offense.

While the woman making the accusation needs to learn not to make assumptions based upon a person’s race, a civil suit could also be waiting for her if the matter ends up in court, and the young man is found innocent, or charges are dismissed.

If you’ve been accused of shoplifting, theft, burglary, or other crime, it is in your best interest to contact The Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC, where our experienced attorneys on staff will be able to listen to the details of your case and offer practical advice on how to protect your rights and/or best build and present your defense.