Accused of a Crime

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Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2009
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We've all probably developed a bias towards people who get accused of crimes, sometimes we may get a feeling that they are guilty before knowing any facts--even though innocence should be presumed. Recently I had started watching the series called Making a Murderer, and it was an interesting watch. While I don't know the truth of that whole story, it really had me thinking about how scary it would be to be accused of a crime that the police want to believe you did, when you didn't do it. I would soon find out the hard way, and experienced the strangest thing that's ever happened to me.

A couple of months ago I was up one night cleaning my garage which I had all torn apart to build new shelves and bring in a new Bridgeport mill. I simply love my Dymo labelmakers and the Plano type plastic organizers with many compartments (the kind known for tackle holding). This is because I have a huge inventory of small items like special machine screws, small heatsinks, laser components and optics, optics, and more optics. That night I realized how much new stuff I had that really needed it's own containers instead of being mixed together. I had just seen for the first time Plano's new sealing plastic containers that a rather small, which have a large O-ring seal around the lid perimeter and waterproof. That moment I decided that I wanted some to get things labeled and packed away asap. I moved quickly and headed to the Fleet Farm that carries that stuff, which is the nearest store. When I pulled up they were almost closed, it was about 5 minutes before they closed. I didn't even think I would get in the store, so I left my car running while parked (not to mention it was cold and I thought I would be back in 5 minutes), but the doors opened right up to let me in. When I walked in there was 2 younger girls chatting by the front desk, and I told the one that looked at me that "I'm buying a container back there" and I pointed that direction, figuring she knew what I meant.
Once I was back near the containers I kept wanting to make sure I didn't miss anything new that arrived, but I hadn't. Yet I was in a small tossup. Couldn't decided whether I wanted the bag with multiple cases in it which was more money or just a few of the smaller cases. Ah what the heck I thought, I grabbed the big bag full of stuff since it would definitely find a use. :)
As I am walking up to and right near the front desks now, I heard the manager name some people on the intercom, saying the could leave. Uh oh. So I started walking down the direction of more checkouts, hoping everyone was not gone, surely with me in the middle of an isle with multiple workers seeing me, someone knows I'm still there, I hope. The moment I began walking down the checkout isles (behind them not through them) it was a series of loud clicks, which was all of the main lights shutting off. I believe I heard one final noise which sounded like the last person leaving, like a distant door slam outside.
So now I am officially locked inside a department store for the first time of my life. I didn't know what to do. First off, it was a little embarrasing, but I figured that I would get out on my own. The first thing I thought of was that there was a side door which is used by customers; a more conventional door with twist lock. That had to be my way out I thought right then. I walked over to that door on the other side of the building, and I twisted the lock. I thought it for sure unlocked, just felt a little tight. I pushed, but the door didn't move. It felt like it was still locked, even though I thought the bolt knob turned. I tried again, still stuck shut. I didn't want to begin damaging property, kicking windows out or anything like that. So I walked back to the front of the store, as I knew sometimes these stores have night security that may show up and be able to help. When I was in the front of the store again, I again heard what sounded like a door shutting and keys jingling. So I started yelling at the top of my lungs, "HELLO? HEY I'M LOCKED IN HERE!.......". Nothing. The noise just went away. But I knew it was a person, I just knew it. I stood there longer, hoping I would hear another noise, but I didn't. Once again I headed back for the side exit door to figure out why I could not open it. I got back there, I turned the lock back and forward, it was indeed unlatching something, so I try both ways to push, nothing. I thought somehow there was another lock somewhere I could not see, and frustrated, I was about to go grab a pair of pliers as there was tools laying out everywhere in the auto service area near the door. Right as I started walking away from the door, I saw flashlight beams hit the windows. Thank god, I thought. Finally I can tell them what happened and get to my car, which is still running on the other side of the parking lot.

I only thought it was good seeing police arrive because I thought they were helpful when I needed help. After all, I do not look like the type of person who lives on the street and breaks into stores for fun, I still had my work attire on which was dress clothes. The moment they saw me, I had hands out of my pockets and may have even waved through the window as they were looking at me, and the door I had been trying to open for 20 minutes flew upon. They said "Don't move!" so I froze, and they grabbed me and handcuffed me. I immediately tried to tell them exactly what had happened, and that I was locked inside. This is when they basically started telling me that I was just a liar. I really do not understand how he opened the door right up but it had to have been unlocked by me, and each time I pushed my 150lb weight may not have been very helpful towards realizing it really was open when I thought it was not. I told them please watch the video, you'll see I did not open that door even a crack while pushing against it. They just ignored everything I said. The lead cop had the younger cop watch me while I sat in the back of a cop car. I told the younger cop that my car is still running on the other side of the parking lot, and I asked if we could please shut it off. He said, "we will in a little bit".
I continued to wait, running through my head how crazy this event was, fearing the idea that they wouldn't accept the real story. I did not have anything I was trying to steal, I wasn't piling boxes by the door, the only thing I had done after realizing I was locked in the store was attempt to get out, then attempt to yell for someone. I waited a long time in the car, over a half hour, then 2 more police showed up. Apparently the person I heard was in fact the store manager coming back into the store due to the silent alarm, and knowing about such things I figured I had triggered such an alarm.

Here's what happens next. I assumed I was getting released, because nothing there would have said that I was trying to steal anything at all, nor would I ever want or need to. They take me out of the car, and now all 4 cops start taking jabs at me. The cop who had arrived later said he was the one who got to see the video with the manager, and he started talking about it. I felt relieved, because I knew that seeing me yelling for help, trying to get out a door, that would show anyone I just wanted to get out of the store. The cop then said to me, "I know some events are really screwed up and the people aren't always as bad as it looks or seems to be; I think this was one of those situations". Whew, OK great he realized reality, I thought. He wasn't done speaking, though. After he said that, then he says, "So can you just tell us what it was you were doing in there? I can understand if times are tough and you just needed a bite to eat, I get it." My jaw about dropped. I'm driving a new vehicle without a scratch on it, I'm wearing a $100 coat that I bought from that very store last year, khakis, dress shoes, and a button-up dress shirt, and this cops best method of camaraderie is to try to get me to admit that I am poor and starving. Uh hello, it's a store, I shop there, I was running in quickly at the last minute, two girls at the front saw me because I told one I was buying a container and pointed that direction. They wouldn't accept that if a store locks doors and you're inside, then you're inside. Then the cop said, "I watched that video with the manager, and you weren't trying to get out of the store". That really felt horrible. The first thing I said was, if you watched the video, did you see me putting my hands next to my mouth shouting 'Hello I'm locked in!' or did you see me actually trying to get out the side door multiple times? "No", he said, "I didn't see that". That's because he didn't possible watch the video, because if he had watched the video he would have had to see what I did.

They still wouldn't shut my car off. At that point they told me that I was going to be processed at the station. I couldn't believe this was really happening. I was cooperating the best I could while telling the truth. The only person in the area I could call at that time from the police station was my father. He arrived, and apparently spoke with the cop that was supposedly writing whatever it was they were arresting me for. I did not think to tell the police that I was diagnosed with ADD, and that I had just started a new medicine the day before. I didn't really want to, I was afraid they would simply say there was more things wrong with me and try to say I was trying to steal because I was on medication. Nothing would surprise me after what had just happened. Well, my father actually knew about me starting new medication for ADD, and he told the officer that clearly I shop at the place because I was wearing a coat you can only purchase there locally. He also told the officer sometimes I take a while to decide what I am going to buy, have ADD, and was just put on new medication. All of which is very true; I'm sure I took way too long trying to decide on something as simple as a plastic container. I guess when he told them these things, the cop said OK well I didn't know that, and said to my father they were only going to give me a trespassing charge.

After we left and I tried to put that night behind me, my father said luckily he told them about my attention problems, because they were going to charge me with criminal trespassing. That shocked me. How can any officer say he is there to serve and protect that willingly throws someone merely trying to shop in the back of a cop car because the store closed? It's a very scary thought to me. I of course had a court date now. I was not really sure how it worked so I was very nervous when I was there, I just knew that I would not plead guilty. There was two lawyers calling names at the front and when one of them called my name I went up there, and he said that the judge was not in today so they needed to reschedule for a month later. Then I saw the charge, it said criminal trespassing! I do not know why he told my father it would be for trespassing and then also lie to him, because we were both very polite and following instructions for them.

I talked to a lawyer and he wants $1200 to do anything, he made me even more afraid though I suspect that's part of selling the client his service, it's just that I really cannot afford that right now after Christmas. Is this something I can potentially win without a lawyer or using the public defender? I know that many of you will tell me to get legal advice but really I'm just hoping to get any others advice. I also wanted to share my story, because it basically changed the way I will forever view this world. You have to be careful not to get near police or possibly become a criminal--that's what it now feels like.

Thanks for hearing my story everyone.
They work 8 hours a day, have a superior they report too, have families, put thier pants on one leg at a time, have hobbies, listen to music, watch TV, enjoy the outdoors, are reasonble, understand, and all kinds of stuff that we do too. Difference is they want to come home to enjoy all of that just like we do. So dont flip out, just figure out where the disconnect is in the situation, repeat the above to yourself and see what you can learn from them/situation. Understand that commiting to protecting and serving the community comes with GREAT risk, should something peg a metter, understand they are protecting themselves first or establishing control. You have to appreciate or understand that first.

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Are you charged with anything? It sounds like they are charging you with "criminal trespassing." If so, you most likely should engage a lawyer. Do you have any money, or are you indigent? If you can't afford a lawyer, the court should appoint you a lawyer, but you may have to prove you are indigent, and it sounds like you have some money.

I'm not a lawyer, so I can't really give you any worthwhile advice. However, you should find out if this is a felony or a misdemeanor (or simply an infraction, like a traffic ticket). If it is a felony or a misdemeanor, you will have now a a "Rap" sheet entry, that will show up whenever law enforcement looks you up. If you can get acquitted, then it can get wiped off your record, or if you can get a plea deal, then maybe it can get wiped off.

Your story sounds legit to me. However, you may have to get several steps into the process to have anybody hear your side of the story. Court processes are basically assembly line procedures...not anything at all like are going to get called up and asked how you plead, guilty or not guilty, and if you don't know the court procedures or have a lawyer help you, you are going to get steamrolled.

As for cops there to protect and serve, heh heh, well that is nice when you have a police and community that thinks that way. Most cops are there just to see things in black and white, not to think. There is a good reason for this. After all, you want the law to be applied equally, right? You were there in a store after it closed, therefore you are trespassing. Your car running? They are going to spin it into a story that you were trying to make a quick getaway. The DA? They love easy convictions, that means they can work less, go home early, and claim another conviction.

In any event, it sounds like you are in a tight spot. I wouldn't underestimate this situation until I knew exactly what the DA was planning, and if they expect you to show up in court to enter a plea for this charge, you really need legal help.
My advice is: Hire an Attorney! Do Not, if you can help it in any way, rely on a Public Defender! They are absolutely worthless!

And despite what we are all told, and what most believe, you are guilty until proven innocent! Watch any of the true crime shows on the air these days and you'll see what I mean.
I don't understand how it can be criminal trespass without them proving you broke in. They let you in the door and did not do due diligence to ensure the store was closed before locking you inside. They are the ones at fault and are causing you stress due to their actions. I think they are the ones that should be threatened with action.
Yikes! I can't offer advice and definitely not legal advice, but isn't there some way that you can settle the cost of a lawyer though all of this without paying him? I.E. the system pays for the lawyer if you are proven innocent.

Where are those girls at the counter in all of this? Were they questioned? Was there video of you talking to them? Honestly how do they think you were trespassing if there was no evidence of you breaking and entering? I mean it's not like you were hiding in the bathroom waiting for the store to close.

At any rate, I hope you can straighten this out with the system without too much hardship and heartbreak. Man that sucks...

Edit: Frank nailed it.
They let you in the door and did not do due diligence to ensure the store was closed before locking you inside. They are the ones at fault and are causing you stress due to their actions. I think they are the ones that should be threatened with action.

Agree - get a lawyer and file a countersuit. Claim defamation and undue stress. Ask for big bucks so they can not ignore.
Tell the store you'll go away when they get the erroneous charges dismissed and the case sealed.
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They let you in the door and did not do due diligence to ensure the store was closed before locking you inside. They are the ones at fault and are causing you stress due to their actions. I think they are the ones that should be threatened with action.

Agree - get a lawyer and file a countersuit. Claim defamation and undue stress. Ask for big bucks so they can not ignore.
Tell the store you'll go away when they get the erroneous charges dismissed and the case sealed.

Screw that- get the charges dropped AND sue the chit out of em .........
Basically, the cops found you inside the store after hours. The store people will deny they let you in. In the DA's mind, this is an open and shut case -- you are guilty. If there is any videotape that shows you coming in the store during business hours that can substantiate you story that is evidence that could be admitted into court for any trial.

However, the DA is not obligated to get that evidence for you (and why would they need it...this is an open and shut case in their minds). If they have the videotape, they must share it with you, but good luck getting any cooperation from them without an attorney on your side.

At a certain point, you need to weigh the cost of having an attorney vs. the *costs* of NOT having an attorney.
Fred is right. Also, call the local news channel and see if they would care to do a piece on your story. Nothing the govt. hates more than bad press.

I am very sorry for your terrible experience. Wish I could do more. I will pray for you.
1) Stop talking. The police are not your friends.

2) Get a lawyer. They won’t let you defend yourself for more than 30 seconds if you don’t have a lawyer. (Yes. Lawyers are expensive. Lady Justice charges by the hour.)

3) The lawyer will probably convince the DA that you’re a good kid. Take the slap on the wrist.

4) Don’t expect to argue facts in a trial. Don’t even expect an actual trial – they’re too time-consuming, what with mass incarceration policies in the U.S. It's all plea bargaining and procedure nowadays. Facts are irrelevant.

5) That said, your lawyer may be able to argue facts hypothetically with the DA and convince him/her that there isn’t enough evidence. (That kinda presupposes the DA will turn over the video under the Brady ruling.)

6) If the video is strong, considering suing the store.

7) I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't represented as legal advice. Think of it as civics for grownups.

8) I sure hope you’re not black.
Ok since I know a lot about law enforcement since that's my career, it's hard to keep quiet on this. First I'm not taking any side on this just trying to explain things better to those who are reading this post.

It's completely ridiculous to claim that you don't look like the typical person off the street that breaks into buildings, that's a huge stereotype and that will surely not fly in court. Also just because you are driving a new car means you aren't capable of stealing or fitting the profile as you so claimed? You left your car running outside, right? Why should the police turn off your car for you? Lucky someone didn't steal it if you don't have automatic start on it.

A lot of what you are saying is hearsay evidence.... How do u know the girls knew what u meant, how do u know other people saw you in the aisle for containers? That's something u need to prove.

Are u sure the video surveillance in the store covers all areas where u were? Do the cameras work at night?

Where was your cell phone? You could have called the police right away, or did u look for a phone in the store?

Just because you have a $100 jacket on and work clothes, does that mean you wouldn't commit a crime? Were u supposed to fit the description of the "normal criminal"? Which is what?

The police shined a flashlight and saw an unknown person inside the business after a silent alarm was triggered...of course you will get handcuffed.

Yes the situation does suck, but you need to get surveillance footage, try to get corporate involved, names of the employees that were working that night, etc.

And to say that you need to be careful not to get close to the police because this incident happened, is ridiculous. I've worked my butt off working in law enforcement and over 99% of police do, and to summarize your experience by saying this about police is unsettling to me...

Good luck and again, I'm not taking any sides to this, just speaking from my experience.


I think Fred has the right idea, but really, unless you're skilled at explaining things to a judge, get a good lawyer.

Steve Shannon
Absolutely want to be clear - I'm not a lawyer and thankfully have zero experience in this area.
Just offer my 2-cents worth of advice.
not knowing when this happened act quick cause the video might not be there for you anymore, the store doesn't have to save it and no guarantee the police took it with you to the station.
I have no advice for the poster except this old adage:

"A person who represents himself in a court of law has a fool for a client."

Good luck with this mess.
OP, until you and your attorney have the facts at your disposal, the police/DA have the advantage at this point. I strongly suggest that you file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request. You will need the case number tied to the investigation and/or your arrest. Preston might be able to weigh in here if those numbers are one in the same, I would assume they would be. In the body of the FOIA request, make specific reference to requesting copies of all employee names and their titles, video security footage (both inside and outside the store), and documentation of all interviews conducted by LEO (Law Enforcement Officer). You have the right to file a FOIA request with or without legal representation, so gather all the information you can ASAP.

Louis Pasteur wrote long ago "chance favors only the prepared mind"

Good luck, keep us informed please.
I believe the FOIA only applies when dealing with State or Federal governments. But I could be wrong
Is this store a national chain? I'd seriously think about filing a countersuit for undue stress and defamation of character. Also the ADD issue may be a way of triggering a suit by you under the Americans w/Disabilities Act. The threat of a suit under the ADA might be enough to get them to change their tune and offer you a settlement due to the aforementioned lack of due diligence in making sure the store was empty. I could see it framed like this... Imagine what could have happened if you were having a reaction to your new meds and having a seizure when you were locked in.
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And to say that you need to be careful not to get close to the police because this incident happened, is ridiculous. I've worked my butt off working in law enforcement and over 99% of police do
99+% of cops are good, hardworking people. ALL of the cops I know personally are good, hardworking people.

I still don't talk to cops, because I have no idea if -this- one is a powertripper, or has been shuffled to a different department due to excessive use of force, what have you.

Get a lawyer, have the lawyer send a letter to corporate, ask the lawyer if you can talk to the local news-on-your-side segment.

Good luck.
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Despite 25 replies since the original post, HyperSpeed has made no further comments. We don't know the name of the state where this incident allegedly happened, nor the city. All we have is a rather lengthy story by an unknown writer to rely upon. Is this yet another "fake news" piece designed to test the gullibility of the TRF membership?
Despite 25 replies since the original post, HyperSpeed has made no further comments. We don't know the name of the state where this incident allegedly happened, nor the city. All we have is a rather lengthy story by an unknown writer to rely upon. Is this yet another "fake news" piece designed to test the gullibility of the TRF membership?

I dunno. 92 prior posts of OP on rocket stuff. Maybe out scrounging the $$$$ for representation. Without any priors, a decent Consigliere ought to be able to minimize the damage. Needs a private lawyer.
Real bummer if it went down as described. I'd never patronize that store ever again no matter what the outcome. Kurt
Screw that- get the charges dropped AND sue the chit out of em .........


I just stay away from people and stores in the first place, and that seems to work to my advantage.
People suck. Not "Rocketry People" or "old woodworking machine people" of course, but the folks we encounter outside of the things we love.
I'll be honest, your story is bizarre. However if this is your story and you're sticking to it, relax. If you can afford it, by all means, immediately hire private counsel. If not, don't sweat it. You don't need to do anything until you see the DA because:

Based on your version of the facts, the DA will drop this case. You will never see a judge. Congratulations!

However if the DA does pursue the case, let us know.

Oh, and next time you are the subject of an investigation, do not, I repeat, DO NOT talk to law enforcement. That means nothing comes out of your mouth. Period. Not even air. Pull your finger out of it and breathe through your nose. Pretend you are a mime. Smile and wave. That's all. Don 't even let them hear you speak to a third party, or someone on your phone, or your mother. Nothing. Natta. Zip. Don't even let someone else speak on your behalf (good job, your father is now a prosecutorial witness) unless it is your defense attorney.


A guy with some court room experience.