Maine Legal Group Logo
Main Office
Satellite Office
Consultations by Appointment Only

Maine Resident Accused of Shoplifting: the Problem of Searches Incident to an Arrest

A Maine native was recently arrested for shoplifting in New Jersey. The details of his arrest highlight an important issue with Maine’s shoplifting law: even empty accusations of shoplifting can quickly turn into criminal charges when police search you for evidence of a crime.

Maine Native Arrested for Shoplifting and Drug Paraphernalia

The arrest happened back in July 2019, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

Fair Lawn police received a call from a local CVS about a suspected shoplifter. When they found the suspect, a 26-year-old from Clinton, Maine, they searched his backpack and found $306 in unpaid merchandise from the CVS as well as several hypodermic needles.

The suspect was arrested for shoplifting and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Shoplifting Allegations Often Lead to Searches in Maine and Elsewhere

The incident highlights one of the most important and frustrating things about shoplifting allegations: when a store accuses you of shoplifting, it can be almost impossible to avoid a police search for evidence.

Police rely on store owners or clerks to report the vast majority of shoplifting incidents. When those reports are made and police identify the suspect – whether using the clerk’s description or with the clerk’s active help and identification – the police will detain the person who is accused of shoplifting.

These detentions are not quite arrests. Instead, they are interactions between police and members of the public that are designed to obtain evidence.

If you are the one detained on suspicion of shoplifting, you can count on police asking to search your bag, backpack, or even your pockets for the merchandise that was allegedly taken.

If you don’t comply, police will usually make an arrest anyway: they often think that the clerk’s tip, description, or identification is enough to constitute the probable cause they need to make an arrest.

Arrests and Searches Incident to an Arrest

Once you have been arrested, police are legally allowed to search you. This is known as a search incident to an arrest. It is supposedly designed to protect police officers by allowing them to pat you down and search for a weapon that you could, in theory, use to hurt them.

In reality, though, police use a search incident to arrest to find incriminating evidence.

Shoplifting Defense at Maine Criminal Defense Group in Maine

This chain of events is exactly what happened in this particular case. The CVS clerk called the police to report a suspected shoplifter. Police detained someone that matched the description from the clerk’s tip. Whether the suspect consented to the subsequent search or whether the police made an arrest and then conducted a search incident to that arrest, the result was the same: they found evidence of another crime in addition to the shoplifting offense. In this case, they found hypodermic needles which could be used to file another criminal charge.

If you have been arrested in Portland, Biddeford, Saco, or the surrounding area and have been accused of shoplifting, you need legal help. Call the criminal defense lawyers at Maine Criminal Defense Group at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online.


Contact our office to speak with
one of our team members who will set up a confidential consultation to discuss your case.


Great group of people. Managed to get me a favorable outcome from a very bad situation. I would highly recommend this firm if you have legal troubles. Top notch performance!!

Dave Allen

So thankful I chose this team to represent me. They’re the best, hands down. Nathan Hitchcock proved my innocence not once but TWICE, including a trial by jury. I have a family in law enforcement who told me “Bill Bly and his team are the best. If I would recommend anyone, it would be them.”

Brandon Albert





Ready to Get Started? Get In Touch With Us Today!

If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Get to Know Our Group
Maine Legal Group

We are a boutique law firm, and we stand out by prioritizing our clients’ well-being. At The Maine Legal Group, our experienced team offers personalized attention in both criminal defense and divorce cases.

The Maine Criminal Defense Group

The Maine Criminal Defense Group adeptly handles all areas of criminal defense practice, including experienced and skilled legal representation for state and federal charges.

The Maine Divorce Group

The Maine Divorce Group empowers individuals skillfully navigating divorce with compassionate guidance, ensuring a brighter future through the challenges of the process.