It is not an uncommon scenario. A defendant leaves a department store with a few unpaid items. They are stopped and detained by store security. While waiting for the police to arrive, security asks them a laundry list of questions. Should this defendant be given a Miranda warning before they are questioned?
There is a lot of confusion regarding when it is appropriate to be read your Miranda warning. The concept behind it that citizens in police custody must be advised of their 5th amendment rights before they can be questioned. If they are questioned or provide information prior to this, the information is considered involuntary and is inadmissible in court
It is important to be aware that store security does not have the same authority as police. If a security guard detains a defendant, they are not obligated to read your Miranda warning. They do have the right to detain a suspect if they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The test for probable cause is whether an objective person of reasonable intelligence would believe under the circumstances that a crime had been committed. This detention must be for a reasonable time, and carried out in a reasonable manner.
If you or a loved one has been charged with violating a shoplifting law, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your case with our office. Often mistakes are made in the arrest process. Perhaps you have valid defenses available to you that will make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Come in and speak with one of our California criminal lawyers for advice. We can be reached at 855-396-0370. (See our article, When does shoplifting in California become burglary?)