Legal Question in Criminal Law in California

Question regarding shoplifting.

I am disabled and use a walker. I also have agoraphobia and other cognitive issues and am pretty medicated- I also take the ada bus. leaving the house is difficult so when I go I try to combine my visits to multiple stores that day. This means I basically stuff my walker like a crazy bag person. I have a system, an order the bags go in.

The stores I frequent are always fine with this- i ask if I should leave the other bags up front and most say it’s fine. Anytime I’ve accidentally forgotten something or it wasn’t wring up I usually notice outside the store and come in or send the driver on or call right away and bring back the next time I’m there.

Well today was an out of the norm day. My agoraphobia has been worsening again, but I was excited to have some birthday money and some money on my credit card to buy some clothes and shower curtains and my friend was going to come over to help me decide which I wanted. I also was buying a few things for the place I volunteer.

Well, usually I would go Home Depot, Whole Foods, then target and my bags go in that order. But the bus was early and I missed Whole Foods. I got plants tht couldn’t get smooshed at Home Depot. I was frazzled. I went to target’s Customer service to return something and exchange my usual soda stream canisters. I asked if I should leave the plant back up there, she said no. I spent about 5 minutes off to the side (w/her permission) trying to rearrange things to make room. (This meant bags were not were they normally would be for a target trip) I went about my shopping, doing what I normally do- folding up the clothes so they fit on my walker, and handing the employees the hanger so they know where it came from). I continued shopping, hadn’t gone to Whole Foods so putting my food in the basket. My bus window was long (not my choice!) so I kind of wandered, then got my alert phone call and realized I was now late! Totally flustered I went to check out- looking down thinking my usual procedure. Home Depot on the bottom, Whole Foods in the basket, target stacked on top.

Well, I’m an idiot and totally blanket- I’m sitting there trying to be nice to the cashier and panicking because the bus driver is walking in (they only wait 5 minutes and leave you) and I totally spaced that I had more target stuff.

As I was walking out, security stopped me and right away I said oh shit- I forgot these bags and wanted to go back and pay for them.

They wouldn’t let me. They said you took two bags, I wAs like, no, actually there’s 3 bags! Oh sit, I’m so sorry, I totally spaced I’ll go check back out.

They wouldn’t let me. They’d already called the police. Didn’t even listen to me. Lady said I was being sneaky stuffing stuff in my walker.

(Which I get, but I have spoken with customer service about this multiple other times and they always tell me not to leave those bags🤷🏻‍♀️)

I know i sound like everyone else saying they didn’t mean it. But I truly just spaced, I do things very carefully in order for b/c of my memory issues, I really wanted to pay and they wouldn’t let me and then pressed charges.

I don’t know what to do. I know it looked bad, and I understand them stopping, but it was truly a mistake and I hadn’t left the store and I wanted to pay for it! I feel horrible, and not for getting caught. I feel like a horrible person and an idiot because it was not on purpose. And I want to apologize for my mistake, but how do I do that to someone like Target?

I likely would have noticed as soon as I got on the bus. I have no record of any sort. Now I’m facing charges. I’m on SSDI and SSI, and if I get convicted of this I lose ability to do the one thing I actually have in my life which is volunteering with a children’s non-profit.

My court date is in JanuAry. The officer said I need to go get fingerprinted this week.

I’m going insane. I already had issues leaving the houseand had worked really hard at going to a few “safe” stores. Now I’m terrified I’m going to get convicted and ruin my life because I’m an idiot. Help!!!!

Asked on 10/20/19, 10:45 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

This site is for getting general guidance as to what can be done or where to seek help. You can not get specific legal advice here unless you actually hire one of the attorneys here, other than to remind you that you should not be telling your story nor its details in public, but only to your own attorney in confidence. He will be able to explain, advise and represent you in court. You can contact the local Bar Association for a list of the names of local criminal defense attorneys in your area. Call and consult with one. If you can not afford private counsel, you should appear in court on your first [arraignment] date and request appointment of the Public Defender, then follow his advice.

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Answered on 10/21/19, 10:12 am

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