I’m a lawyer – because you can be charged with random theft from the self-check months later

A LAWYER has advised shoppers to avoid self-checking, revealing they could be charged with accidental theft if they forget to scan items.

Criminal attorney Carrie Jernigan shares her experience and advice for retail buyers Tik Tok.


Attorney Carrie Jernigan shares her latest warning about the use of self-checkout at large chain storesCredit: Tiktok
TikTok's Viral Lawyer Says People Accused of Auto-Checkout Are Being Slapped With Theft Charges - Months Later


TikTok’s Viral Lawyer Says People Accused of Auto-Checkout Are Being Slapped With Theft Charges – Months LaterCredit: Getty

In a 2022 video, Jernigan revealed that three groups of people are accused of stealing from major chain stores that provide customers with checkout alternatives.

He says the first group of people to get slapped for shoplifting are those who enter stores with the intention of stealing.

The second set of shoppers charged with the same crime are what he calls those who commit “theft by mistake.”

“Those are the people I really think forgot to scan an item,” Jernigan said.

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“It’s usually something on the bottom shelf of the cart, or say a DVD that’s slipped under the purse, and when they go out, their asset protection stops.”

Jernigan says that when self-checkout first started, security would allow all those innocent shoppers to scan and pay for the item, or just let them go and take back the item they didn’t pay for.

The lawyer says that because of the first group’s creative theft tactics, big box stores have lost all “sympathy and are just taking the ‘tell it to the judge’ approach.”

He calls the third group of people “truly innocent.”

Jernigan revealed that these patrons are not charged the day they purchase the item but months later.

“Most of them don’t charge on the day of it. It says something that asset protection is doing a quality check or inventory check weeks, days, months later and it’s coming soon,” he explains.

“So they’ll start watching hours of video and they’ll see the last person who checked out with the Mario Lego set because they’re too short or an Xbox game, and for some reason, they spot and think you did it.”

Jernigan explains that because retailers are so well-known, “they usually have to produce very little evidence to get an affidavit to sign a warrant.”

“Charges that could land you in jail for up to a year, then be filed and you’re fighting for your life trying to determine what day you were at Walmart, what you bought.

He explains how lawyers hired for such cases must spend hours watching videos and trying to determine their client’s innocence.

“You have to spend thousands of dollars to hire a lawyer and we have to go through grainy video to try to determine what you bought that day,” he warned.

Carrie said charges are often dismissed when a lawyer can prove their client didn’t steal.

However, now you have lost thousands of dollars and wasted a lot of time and energy.