Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
News Your Rights Online

Man Arrested for Refusing to Show Drivers License 1972

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the living-your-life-with-principles dept.
NMerriam writes "Michael Righi was arrested in Ohio over the weekend after refusing to show his receipt when leaving Circuit City. When the manger and 'loss prevention' employee physically prevented the vehicle he was a passenger in from leaving the parking lot, he called the police, who arrived, searched his bag and found he hadn't stolen anything. The officer then asked for Michael's driver's license, which he declined to provide since he wasn't operating a motor vehicle. The officer then arrested him, and upon finding out Michael was legally right about not having to provide a license, went ahead and charged him with 'obstructing official business' anyways."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Man Arrested for Refusing to Show Drivers License

Comments Filter:
  • by Fox_1 (128616) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:06PM (#20452937)
    Link to coverage of this elsewhere [typepad.com]

    Here is another blog that for the moment isn't dead and has the story.

  • by RandyOo (61821) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:11PM (#20453019) Homepage
    A few people contacted me wanting to know if I was accepting donations for my legal fund. Donations would be greatly appreciated. If more
    funds are raised than are actually needed I will donate the excess to the ACLU. Donations can be made via PayPal to: paypal@michaelrighi.com.

    Today was an eventful day. I drove to Cleveland, reunited with my father's side of the family and got arrested. More on that arrested part to come.

    For the labor day weekend my father decided to host a small family reunion. My sister flew in from California and I drove in from Pittsburgh to visit my father, his wife and my little brother and sister. Shortly after arriving we packed the whole family into my father's Buick and headed off to the grocery store to buy some ingredients to make monkeybread. (It's my little sister's birthday today and that was her cute/bizare birthday request.)

    Next to the grocery store was a Circuit City. (The Brooklyn, Ohio Circuit City to be exact.) Having forgotten that it was my sister's birthday I decided to run in and buy her a last minute gift. I settled on Disney's "Cars" game for the Nintendo Wii. I also needed to purchase a Power Squid surge protector which I paid for separately with my business credit card. As I headed towards the exit doors I passed a gentleman whose name I would later learn is Santura. As I began to walk towards the doors Santura said, "Sir, I need to examine your receipt." I responded by continuing to walk past him while saying, "No thank you."

    As I walked through the double doors I heard Santura yelling for his manager behind me. My father and the family had the Buick pulled up waiting for me outside the doors to Circuit City. I opened the door and got into the back seat while Santura and his manager, whose name I have since learned is Joe Atha, came running up to the vehicle. I closed the door and as my father was just about to pull away the manager, Joe, yelled for us to stop. Of course I knew what this was about, but I played dumb and pretended that I didn't know what the problem was. I wanted to give Joe the chance to explain what all the fuss was for.

    I reopened the door to talk with Joe and at this point Joe positioned his body between the open car door and myself. (I was still seated in the Buick.) Joe placed his left hand on the roof of the car and his right hand on the open car door. I asked Joe if there was a problem. The conversation went something like this:

    Me: "Is there a problem?"
    Joe: "I need to examine your bag and receipt before letting you leave this parking lot."
    Me: "I paid for the contents in this bag. Are you accusing me of stealing?"
    Joe: "I'm not accusing you of anything, but I'm allowed by law to look through your bag when you leave."
    Me: "Which law states that? Name the law that gives you the right to examine my bag when I leave a Circuit City."

    Of course Joe wasn't able to name the law that gives him, a U.S. citizen and Circuit City employee the right to examine anything that I, a U.S. citizen and Circuit City customer am carrying out of the store. I've dealt with these scare tactics at other stores in the past including other Circuit Cities, Best Buys and Guitar Centers. I've always taken the stance that retail stores shouldn't treat their loyal customers as criminals and that customers shouldn't so willingly give up their rights along with their money. Theft sucks and I wish that shoplifters were treated more harshly than they are, but the fact is that I am not a shiplifter shoplifter and shouldn't have to forfeit my civil rights when leaving a store.

    I twice asked Joe to back away from the car so that I could close the door. Joe refused. On three occasions I tried to pull the door closed but Joe pushed back on the door with his hip and hands. I then gave Joe three options:

    1. "Accuse me of shoplifting and call the pol
  • by Fox_1 (128616) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:12PM (#20453025)
    From the story - He is making a good case for himself. Miranda wasn't done properly, and the law doesn't explicitly state he has to show his "Drivers License"

    September 1st, 2007 @ 10:50PM EST Update:The police officer never read me my Miranda rights. I've heard differing opinions on how much this really matters and will certainly be bringing this up with my attorney.
    September 1st, 2007 @11:34PM EST Update:I found the detail on Ohio's "stop and identify" law. I encourage you to read it in its entirety, but I will spell out the important part:
    2921.29 (C) Nothing in this section requires a person to answer any questions beyond that person's name, address, or date of birth. Nothing in this section authorizes a law enforcement officer to arrest a person for not providing any information beyond that person's name, address, or date of birth or for refusing to describe the offense observed.
    I stated my name to the police officer, and if he had asked me for my address and date of birth I would have provided that as well. The officer specifically asked for my driver's license and this is what I was unwilling to provide. If I'm reading this correctly it would appear that Ohio's law specifically protects citizens from having to hand over driver's licenses unless they are operating a motor vehicle. This is what I always believed, but it's nice to see it in writing.

  • by VidEdit (703021) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:15PM (#20453069)
    First, he didn't have to show his receipt or open the bag containing **his** property for the Circuit City door monitor. Unless you are shopping in a membership store where you signed a contract allowing such searches they are **voluntary**

    Security consultant Chris E. McGoey notes:
    "A customer can refuse to have their bag checked and simply walk out the door past the bag checker. Hopefully the bag checker has been trained to know that they cannot force anyone to submit to a bag search without cause. This is important because the expectation of the bag checker is that all bag contents have been purchased. The worst thing that could happen is that an aggressive bag checker would forcibly detain or threaten a customer who refused to comply with the voluntary search."
    http://www.crimedoctor.com/loss_prevention_3.htm [crimedoctor.com]

    Sure, it would have been easier to submit to a search, but stores use the force of conformity as a method of social engineering to get you to comply. A voluntary search isn't voluntary unless you can say no without negative consequences, otherwise the search is **coerced**. The effectiveness of this social engineering will be seen in the comments of people who will say he should have just shown his receipt. These people show their receipts and, based on innate human behavior, think that everyone should behave as they do and that not to do so is to be unreasonable. But where should it stop? If you think the store had a right to make him show a receipt and have his bags searched--contrary to law--why not make him take his shoes off and let them inspect his wallet? They have **just as much right** do do that as search his bags, which is to say, "none."

    Not showing your receipt when you don't have to may seem like a trivial gesture but clearly it is not. The OP was within his legal rights and as a result was arrested. Most of us are unwilling to face those kind of consequences to stand up to our everyday rights. He was not. I hope he brings awareness to the over zealous use of searches by private business acting like they are the government with police powers.

    As to the arrest for failing to show his license. The OP was the one who called the cops and they arrested **him**, not the store personnel who were unlawfully detaining him in the parking lot! Idaho state law specifically says he just has to identify himself to the officer not show ID, and he isn't required to have an ID on him! To all of those who say he should have been arrested for not showing ID do you think that would also apply if he hadn't been carrying one? If not, why is it any different to arrest him just because he did?

  • by heinousjay (683506) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:15PM (#20453081) Journal
    Like what? You're pretty obviously basing your judgement in this matter on sensationalized, overblown reports.

    Of course, you were modded up. Most likely by someone who doesn't even like in the US and has zero understanding of the court system here, beyond what he reads on Slashdot, bless his heart.

    No, the system seems to work pretty well, overall. Things go wrong, certainly, but as it's a human endeavor, that's completely unavoidable.
  • by CrankyFool (680025) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:38PM (#20453347)
    The store may not come away unscathed, but it's likely the police officer (really, his department since it's likely a law suit would be against the department rather than against the individual officer) is likely covered.

    Barring a specific law against requiring to show driver's license (and the person in this case has so far found an absence of a law requiring showing the ID, not a law specifying you do not have to show ID), an argument could be made that if a police officer is investigating a potential crime, they have the right to ask for identification from relevant parties.

    Now, I'm not saying "an argument could be made" in the sense of "I'm a layman and I'm just talking shit" here -- I'm saying that in the sense of "an argument's already been made to the Supreme Court, and they said it was reasonable." In other words, there's already case law, determined at the highest levels, saying it's reasonable to ask for ID, and it's reasonable to convict someone of impeding the police for refusing to show ID. See HIIBEL v. SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF NEVADA -- http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-5554.ZS.h tml [cornell.edu]

  • by sfogarty (758783) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:38PM (#20453351)
    I do not abdicate my personal rights to property and privacy when I am on private property.
  • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:48PM (#20453485) Homepage
    Any thoughts on how to keep goods from leaving the store unauthorized, without violating someone's rights?

    The traditional way?

    The tort of false imprisonment consists of intentionally confining a victim without his consent, by certain means (e.g. physical boundaries, unlawful force, unlawful threats of force). But there is an exception to this, with regard to shoplifting, known as the shopkeeper's privilege. In order for a specific act of detaining someone to qualify, the shopkeeper has to have a reasonable suspicion that the detainee has shoplifted, he can only use a reasonable degree of force and restrain them in a reasonable manner, he can only detain them long enough to carry out a reasonable investigation (probably no longer than about 15 minutes), and it needs to take place on or quite close to the premises (you can't hunt someone down hours or miles later). So long as these requirements are met, the shopkeeper is protected, even if he made a mistake. The important thing is that he acted reasonably.

    That's the common law rule; there are statutory forms of the privilege in some jurisdictions, but they're likely pretty similar.

    The issue here is this: given that it is not reasonable to suspect every single customer merely because they are exiting the store, but given that it is lawful to ask exiting customers to voluntarily show their receipts, is it reasonable to suspect someone of shoplifting for no other reason whatsoever than that they did not comply with the voluntary showing of their receipt?

    Personally, I would think not. While the damages that this guy personally suffered are relatively minor, if this is a matter of policy for the entire store or chain of stores, and if it is a common policy in other stores, then punitive damages might be called for to discourage this store (and others, by means of cautionary example) from having such policies in future.
  • Wowza.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by VValdo (10446) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:49PM (#20453501)
    100+ replies and not one mention of Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada [cnn.com], which was only 3 years ago.

    W
  • by Kenji DRE (1020807) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:49PM (#20453503)

    Even if the police officer found something, the exact same lawsuit could exist, as anything found would be inadmissible (IANAL) due it being found in the illegal search.
    Yes, it's called fruit of the poisonous tree [wikipedia.org]
  • by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinchNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:58PM (#20453641) Journal
    Schools, for one. They can search your backpack anytime they want in school. Can't think of any others offhand but I'm sure there are more.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:59PM (#20453655) Journal
    It's the same in the UK. The only people who are allowed to search you are police. Private individuals, whatever uniform they wear, are not. If you are on someone else's property, then they can ask you to leave, and they can call the police to escort you off the premises if you refuse. A lot of people are unaware of this, and so they will allow security guards to look through their bags, etc.

    The other option they have is to affect a citizen's arrest. This is very rarely done, because there are legal penalties for unlawful arrest which extend to citizens' arrests. If you affect a citizen's arrest after the crime (rather than at the time and place where it is committed), and the arrestee is acquitted, then the arrest will be deemed to be illegal.

  • Utter bullshit. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:02PM (#20453691) Journal
    I think you are confusing the fact that a lot of incredibly stupid people -- both the guilty and not guilty -- end up charged with obstructing justice because they start yapping and provide police with false names or identification. There is nothing in Canadian law that compels you to produce identification when demanded, except for the production of a driver's license when driving, of course. You not only have the right to remain silent but the duty, unless you want to be arrested for what is essentially idiocy.

    There is a long standing Supreme Court of Canada decision that determined that citizens are not required to identify themselves to police simply because it is demanded. Curiously enough, this decision is decades old and from an era before the advent of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • by hedwards (940851) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:03PM (#20453711)
    I don't think that it is like that in most areas. Around here you can only be required to show your ID if you are driving, proof of identity or are specifically doing something that requires proof of age. It isn't going to be something that is unavoidable.

    It would be inane to require somebody to carry an ID at all times. If you are riding in a vehicle, they can't demand an ID, just the ID of the driver, and the refusal to show an ID is just probable cause for a search of the driver and car. Not the people riding along.

    Around here one is only required to identify ones self in certain circumstances. Of course this can be suspicious and at that point there is usually sufficient cause for the officer to bring the person in.

    Does Ohio really not have a statute for filing a false police report or unlawful citizens arrest? Because citizens arrest only applies in certain circumstances, and in this case it wouldn't. In order for it to be lawful the citizen needs to see the crime taking place. Not just suspect that one has occurred. Seems doubtful that they would be able to clear the standards in place on this one.
  • by sofar (317980) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:11PM (#20453799) Homepage
    You can't arrest someone on "probable cause", even the police needs more proof than that to "arrest" you. You can use probable cause to search someone, but for a citizens arrest you need to have undisputable evidence (video, eye witness of someone putting something in a bag etc) to perform a citizens arrest.
  • by jnik (1733) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:13PM (#20453821)
    It's reasonable to ask for ID; it is reasonable to require someone to identify himself. It is not reasonable to require identification. [T]he Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted the instant statute to require only that a suspect disclose his name. It apparently does not require him to produce a driver's license or any other document. If he chooses either to state his name or communicate it to the officer by other means, the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:19PM (#20453901) Homepage
    Sounds a lot like how Service Merchandise stores were set up.

    Ron
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:20PM (#20453925) Homepage
    Not really. Once you have signed the contract, they are no longer voluntary but mandatory and you cannot voluntarily decline.

    No, you really can. Contracts are not inviolate or holy or anything; if either side wants to breech a contract at any time, then they are always absolutely free to do so. There might be some sort of damages to pay to the other side, but typically that's all. Indeed, the legal system encourages parties to breech if, taking into consideration the effects of it, it is sensible to do so. It's not viewed as bad or worthy of punishment or anything.

    Could the store win in court on the argument that breech is reasonable grounds to invoke the shopkeeper's privilege? Personally, I would doubt it.

    Certainly, your contractual relationship with them would be over, so they would treat you as any other non-member and not let you shop there. And they could likely refuse to let you set up a new contract with them. But that's not really interesting, and if you're going to breech, you ought to weigh which outcome (consenting and continuing to shop there, or not consenting and not coming back) is better for you.
  • by Maxmin (921568) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:21PM (#20453955)

    Depends upon the local and state laws. In general, many municipalities, and some states, have passed laws which grant shopkeepers certain rights to detain and search customers, when they reasonably suspect that a theft has taken place.

    You, the detained customer, do not have to cooperate with the search or detainment; however, the shopkeeper may request police assistance. The circumstances will vary from case to case, so it is generally up to a jury to decide whether a shopkeeper has been reasonable in their search and/or detention of a suspected shoplifter.

    In Van Zante and Jacobson (appellants) vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, City of Coralville, Iowa, et alia [findlaw.com], the appeals court reversed the lower court's decision to throw out the plaintiffs' false imprisonment case, granting clearance for a jury trial.

    In Bathe and Hedge vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc [findlaw.com], the court found that Wal-Mart had acted reasonably in detaining and searching the plaintiffs.

  • by jeko (179919) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:23PM (#20453977)
    Here's why:

    BTW, I'm basically quoting, of all things, a decision by the Texas Supreme Court. Texas is one of the states the unequivocally says you can walk right by the guy at the door with a grin and a wave.

    1. Simply entering private property does not give the owner the right to forcibly search you. e.g. You show up to a friend's barbecue. Silverware goes missing. Your friend can ask you to leave. Your friend cannot forcibly search you.

    2. A place of business is private property, but you actually LOSE rights as a property owner when you open to the public for business. In my own home, I am allowed to be as racist, sexist and as homophobic as I choose to be. In my own restaurant open to the public, I'd better serve all customers equally.

    3. Once the store accepts payment, everything in your bag, including the bag, becomes your property. Money has changed hands, the transaction has been completed. It's your stuff, just as much as your wallet and underwear.

    4. The store is well aware of the transaction and the fact that this is now your property. Most store have exits within sight of the cash register, if not in fact FUNNELED through them. We can also prove from the records that the store knows this is now your property.

    5. While the Fourth Amendment does not apply to the store, there is absolutely NO law that GIVES them the right to search. See point one. The Fourth Amendment limits the Authority of Government. The store has NO authority to begin with. Saying the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply so the Store can search is like saying traffic cops can't pull over every pretty blonde they see, but since I'm a private citizen I can.

    6. While stores do have the right to detain shoplifters, the store had better be ready to supply a videotape or a witness who will testify to the theft.

    7. When testifying under oath, the stores admitted some wonderfully interesting points. One, the searches at the door caught virtually no shoplifters, and two, the searches at the door NEVER "helped the customer" by making sure they actually received all the items they paid for. Even if the searches did find "forgotten items" the cashier should have placed in the customer's cart, you can't force someone to accept your help. The stores were forced to admit the searches at the door were for "deterrence," in other words, security theater. Don't shoplift because we're searching you at the door.

    Oddly enough, for once in its existence, the Texas Supreme Court made the right call on this one. In the State of Texas, stores cannot detain you at the door for as search. In addition, since you cannot sign away your legal rights in a contract -- you cannot sell yourself into slavery, an employment agreement where you agree you work for less than minimum wage is void -- not even Sam's and Costco can force this as part of the "membership."

    The only reason door searches exist in Texas is that people voluntarily put up with them.

  • by Orange Crush (934731) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:24PM (#20454001)

    Correct. Every retail store I've ever worked at has a strict no-chase policy. If someone's suspected of shoplifting they can be asked to stop or asked to have their bags searched, but employees are not to do anything else to attempt to stop the person. If you really think unpaid merchandise is walking out of the store, call the cops, try to get the license plate number and let them deal with it (it's their job.).

    The store's home office would much rather see $100 in merchandise walk out the door than an employee do something stupid and bring down a major lawsuit. My bet is these employees violated company policy, will almost certainly be fired, and maybe even sued personally (tho, if they're just CC employees, they're probably not worth suing). Either way, Circuit City should be ready to cut a large check to keep this guy from suing.

  • by drtsystems (775462) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:28PM (#20454047)
    I work at this circuit city, and the cop who came is apparently friends with the store director. I know I have seen him shopping at the store a lot and will often talk with a few of the managers.
  • Uphill battle... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xenographic (557057) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:32PM (#20454121) Homepage Journal
    While there may be local laws that change things, and IANAL, people have lost several similar cases in the past, so there may be an uphill battle here. I know I personally wouldn't convict someone of a BS charge like 'resisting arrest' without some evidence of serious resistance (i.e. bruises or injuries) but beyond that... :[

    Dudley Hiibel in Nevada [wired.com]
    John Gilmore & his Supreme Court case [homelandstupidity.us]
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:36PM (#20454181)
    The Ohio statute says "probable cause". An officer can arrest you on probable cause as well. In fact, an officer can detain you on lesser grounds than that (reasonable suspicion).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:36PM (#20454185)
    Unwillingness to be searched is not probable cause or reasonable suspicion to warrant a search.
  • by feepness (543479) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:41PM (#20454249) Homepage

    Legitimately walk into the store with the items and a receipt, intending to return them, they say you can't, so you walk out of the store with the same items. As far as the yellow marker guy is concerned, it would look the same as if you walked in, snatched some stuff of the shelves that you had a marked receipt for, and simply walked out.
    That's why many stores have a different entrance for returns which is right next to the front of the store. So you can't just walk in and pluck something off the shelf and return it.

    But most theft is employees anyway.
  • by jeko (179919) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:43PM (#20454265)
    Tripping a cop who's chasing a suspect is "impeding." Refusing to yield the right of way to an ambulance is "impeding." Rubbernecking an accident is "impeding." Speaking only Japanese when English is your native language is "impeding."

    Declining a request the officer doesn't have the legal right to make is not impeding. If it was, then the cop would get to make up his own little laws on the spot, and that's not correct. Note how the law goes out of its way to define that this has to be an "authorized act." The laws states you need to supply your name and address. He did. The Store had been given TWO different forms of ID for the man. His identity was never in question.

    What we have is a store manager, and then a cop, getting WAY out of line, and the cop's offense is the worse one since it was committed under the color of authority. People who make stands over principle are called "patriots" here.
  • by Maxmin (921568) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:48PM (#20454343)

    Most states and municipalities have passed laws granting shopkeepers limited privilege to search and detain customers, when they reasonably believe a theft has occurred. List of laws by state [about.com]. Some laws provide the shopkeeper limited immunity from torts arising from detainment.

    The criteria which triggers shopkeeper privilege varies, but generally is centered on whether the store's employees witnessed a theft or other suspicious activity that indicates a theft has taken place (e.g. opening packaged goods, placing goods upon one's self, etc.)

    The shopkeeper has a certain amount of leeway. In Ohio, the statute is:

    2935.041 Detention, arrest of shoplifters; protection of library, museum and archival institution property [about.com], specifically:

    (A) A merchant, or his employee or agent, who has probable cause to believe that items offered for sale by a mercantile establishment have been unlawfully taken by a person, may, for the purposes set forth in division (C) of this section, detain the person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable length of time within the mercantile establishment or its immediate vicinity.

    (F) Any peace officer may arrest without a warrant any person that he has probable cause to believe has committed any act described in division (B)(1) or (2) of this section or that he has probable cause to believe has committed an unlawful taking in a mercantile establishment. An arrest under this division shall be made within a reasonable time after the commission of the act or unlawful taking.

    As to the officer arresting the dude who wouldn't show his license, that's gonna be up to the jury to decide. Watch for the local prosecutor to drop the charges, as a public conciliatory gesture, sign that the police department is hedging against future lawsuit.

    To the folks who say "forgive and forget," that the arrestee wasn't harmed or should drop the case - remember that, in most cases, today, the public entity you've just been arrested by is a municipal corporation, and carries many of the protections of a business corporation. Cities generally act as corporations do - to deny wrongdoing, and to put up a lawyer front. That leaves only one way to combat wrongful arrest: sue. The city won't apologize, that's tantamount to admission of wrongdoing. It is up to the arrestee to assert that wrong was done, and prove it in court.

    That's how "The System" works. It's become a paper-based RPG - your lawyer versus their lawyer, knight vs. knight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:00PM (#20454489)
    In the UK, a private citizen can only conduct a citizen's arrest:

    1. If you physically witness a crime being committed.
    2. If a police officer tells you to (ie. helping out when the copper is outnumbered).

    Only police officers can arrest people without witnessing the crime being committed.

    In this case, the shop security staff did not witness a crime being committed. They're 100% out of order here.
  • Re:Uphill battle... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Marful (861873) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:04PM (#20454545)
    You'll note in Dudley Hiibel vs. Nevada that they reference a previous case, Kolender vs. Lawson ( KOLENDER v. LAWSON, 461 U.S. 352 (1983)461 U.S. 352).

    Edward Lawson was "detained or arrested on approximately 15 occasions between March 1975 and January 1977 pursuant to Cal. Penal Code Ann. 647(e) (West 1970). 2 Lawson was prosecuted only twice, and was convicted once. The second charge was dismissed"


    Edward Lawsons crime was being a black male in an affluent neighborhood and jogging. During these stops he did not have his drivers license on him, or did not feel the need to present his ID upon request. The police would then arrest him for either interfering with a police investigation or PC 647(e)

    In particular Edward Lawson, when refusing to show ID, was charged with PC 647(e). His lawyer's contention was that PC 647(e)'s definition of "Identify" was constitutionally vague, and successfully argued his case before the California Supreme Court.


    PC 647(e)
    Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty
    of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor:

    (e) Who loiters or wanders upon the streets or from place to place
    without apparent reason or business and who refuses to identify
    himself or herself and to account for his or her presence when
    requested by any peace officer so to do, if the surrounding
    circumstances would indicate to a reasonable person that the public
    safety demands this identification.


    In the Supreme Court of California the judges made the following statements and ruling:

    Section 647(e), as presently drafted and as construed by the state courts, contains no standard for determining what a suspect has to do in order to satisfy the requirement to provide a "credible and reliable" identification. As such, the statute vests virtually complete discretion in the hands of the police to determine whether the suspect has satisfied the statute and must be permitted to go on his way in the absence of probable cause to arrest. An individual, whom police may think is suspicious but do not have probable cause to believe has committed a crime, is entitled to continue to walk the public streets "only at the whim of any police officer" who happens to stop that individual under 647(e). Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, 382 U.S. 87, 90 (1965). Our concern here is based upon the "potential for arbitrarily suppressing First Amendment liberties . . . ." Id., at 91. In addition, 647(e) implicates consideration of the constitutional right to freedom of movement. See Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116, 126 (1958); Aptheker v. Secretary of State, 378 U.S. 500, 505 -506 (1964). 8 [461 U.S. 352, 359]

    ...

    We conclude 647(e) is unconstitutionally vague on its face because it encourages arbitrary enforcement by failing to describe with sufficient particularity what a suspect must do in order to satisfy the statute. 10 Accordingly, the judgment of [461 U.S. 352, 362] the Court of Appeals is affirmed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. It is so ordered.

    ...

    In sum, under the Fourth Amendment, police officers with reasonable suspicion that an individual has committed or is about to commit a crime may detain that individual, using some force if necessary, for the purpose of asking investigative questions. 3 They may ask their questions in a way calculated to obtain an answer. But they may not compel an answer, and they must allow the person to leave after a reasonably brief period of time unless the information they have acquired during the encounter has given them probable cause sufficient to justify an arrest. 4


    "Shopkeeper's Privilege" is a whole other issue too. Which was also violated and thus the protections under it to a shopkeeper for unlawful imprisonment are no longer granted.

    P.S. IANAL
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:06PM (#20454577)
    He was still in the parking lot, which they presumably also own.
  • by VidEdit (703021) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:07PM (#20454587)
    "hey don't have to have any sort of cause to search your bag in their store."

    No, they don't need a cause to **ask** but they can't physically detain or force you to submit to a search you unless they witnessed a crime and are effecting a citizens arrest. They have no powers of arrest other than citizens arrest and you can only make a citizens arrest if you **witnessed** a crime, not just because they'd like to see in a bag.

    As to the police search of the OP's bag, the cop is probably in the clear *for the search* because the store misrepresented the facts to the cop. However, the store is not in the clear. They had no legal right to physically detain the OP for failure to submit to a voluntary bag search. As to the tort, there is much more at stake that indignity of being falsely accused--the OP is **in the system** with an arrest record that will show up anytime a cop calls in a a check--forever. Additionally, the OP will suffer legal costs to defend his false arrest. Further, he has been defamed as exemplified by the many, many posts claiming he should have submitted to the demands of the Circuit City employee. And, there is the emotional distress of his relatives who witnessed the false arrest.

    No, there is a case here and Circuit City has some damage control to do, and fast. Already, in a similar case, Tiger Direct corporate apologized. CC would do well to follow suit.

    Private institutions are not police and they do not have police powers. Defending the idea that they do does a disservice to those who don't fully understand their rights. Our rights are nebulous enough without misinformation being added to the mix.
  • by Score Whore (32328) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:17PM (#20454709)
    That's so funny that you write this. The reality is, and this is supported by research, if a doctor makes a habit of, when he screws up, admitting it and talks with the patient over their options the number of malpractice suits [insurancejournal.com] goes down:

    Colorado's largest malpractice insurer, COPIC, for example, has enrolled 1,800 physicians in a disclosure program under which they immediately express remorse to patients when medical care goes wrong and describe in detail what happened.

    Malpractice claims against these 1,800 doctors have dropped 50 percent since 2000, while the cost of settling these doctors'claims has fallen 23 percent.
  • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by GodBlessTexas (737029) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:19PM (#20454727) Journal
    Well, that's great! Stores have the right to ask for your receipt, but you don't have to show it. Kind of an empty right, but whatever. A determined thief could then just take whatever he wanted and walk out of the store and there's nothing they can do. They can't detain him or stop him. If they touch him at all, they're violating his inalienable rights. Any thoughts on how to keep goods from leaving the store unauthorized, without violating someone's rights? That is incorrect. A store has the right to detain a person if they are certain, within a reasonable doubt, that the person stole property, though the specifics of the relevant laws vary from state to state. An eyewitness or video surveillance are acceptable methods of establishing just cause in detaining a person of theft/shoplifting. Problems occur when someone is detained without having stolen property, and this is called an "unproductive stop" in the loss prevention business, and an unproductive stop leaves you open to legal liability, both criminal and civil, depending upon the actions taken by loss prevention. This story is a textbook case of what NOT to do in this situation if you work LP.
  • by jeko (179919) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:21PM (#20454757)
    State law requires ID to purchase alcohol. State Law requires ID to operate a motor vehicle. Since he was doing neither, all State Law requires, black letter law, by the way, is to tell them his name and address, which he did. The actual law is cited in the article. We are not yet required to submit papers to walk down the street in this country.
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:27PM (#20454857)
    Yes, but if you read the article, you'll see that Righi was arrested AFTER the police officer didn't find any stolen items in his bags. On top of that, the officer wouldn't even tell Righi why he was being arrested until he was back at the station and was able to sit down for a few moments to dig up an excuse.
  • by leereyno (32197) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:28PM (#20454889) Homepage Journal
    I just found out recently that if you have ever been arrested, you are ineligible to travel to the US without a visa. The US has an agreement with 22 other nations, such as the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, etc, where by citizens of these nations can visit the US as tourists without a visa, provided that they only stay for 90 days or less.

    Well, if you're a citizen of one of these nations, and you've ever been arrested, then you're excluded from this program. It doesn't matter if you were never changed with a crime. It doesn't matter if you were acquitted. It doesn't matter if your record has been expunged. Merely being arrested, for any reason, disqualifies you.

    If this guy is smart, he'll ask the judge to purge this wrongful arrest from his record. I don't know if the judge can do that, but odds are he or she can, and should.

  • Re:Oh my god (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enigma2175 (179646) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:37PM (#20455009) Homepage Journal

    He definitely obstructed official business by calling police instead of showing his bag.

    He called police because he was being unlawfully detained. If somebody is being detained against their will and they call the police to remedy the situation, I fail how to see how that is obstructing official business. That is what the police are there for.

    How do you want to catch a thief if you are not allowed to look into his bag?

    The good old fashioned way: by observing the thief steal merchandise. If you didn't see him steal anything, you have no reason to believe that he has. Treating all your customers as thieves is not good for business -- just ask the RIAA.

    He clearly called the cops and didn't identify himself.

    No, he clearly DID identify himself, he just refused to show a drivers license because he was not driving. Ohio state law quite specifically states you do not have to provide a drivers license to a police officer if you are not driving.
  • Why the uproar? (Score:2, Informative)

    by GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:47PM (#20455137)
    Why so much uproar on this topic?

    Why does anyone care about this man's rights, whether it is regarding showing his license or showing his receipt?

    Who cares!

    It's all meaningless in the face of the laws the USA have enacted in the last several years which have destroyed several sections of the US constitution.

    It's all meaningless considering that your judges don't have the balls to uphold your constitution and strike down such laws.

    Your ancestors fought and died for that constitution, for you to have those rights, but no, instead people are concerned that a consumer might actually have to prove he purchased the goods he's trying to remove from a store?
  • by Romancer (19668) <romancer@deaths d o o r .com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:19PM (#20455465) Journal
    The store declined to call the cops and so lost the right to make the complaint based on holding a person for arrest by the police. It's in the article. They refused to call the cops.
  • by Sancho (17056) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:26PM (#20455547) Homepage
    There's a lot of misinformation spreading around here.

    Shopkeeper's Privilege is what allows businesses to search you, or to detain you until the police arrive. It only applies if they have a good reason to suspect that you are shoplifting. Generally speaking, though, the rules protect consumers as much as they protect the stores. The store must maintain visual contact with you at all times, from the time of the suspected shoplifting until you leave. Otherwise, they lose a lot of their power.

    You don't lose your rights just because you set foot on private property. However, the store can kick you out and demand that you never return if you don't follow their policies. If you have already purchased your goods, this won't void the purchase.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:29PM (#20455603)
    You are correct, your right to your property means that you can keep him off of it, even if he is doing something explicitly Constitutionally protected (like exercising free speech). What you are incorrect about is that you have a right to do anything other than kick him off of it. You can't post a sign or make a statement or anything that says you have the right to beat him up and steal his wallet if he does something you don't like and expect that to protect you. You'll still go to jail, your sign/statement is 100% meaningless.

    A store has the right to refuse you entry for pretty much any reason, for example if you refuse to leave a bag at the counter, they can refuse to let you in. They can also kick you out for pretty much any reason, for example if you mess up merchandise on a shelf. However they don't have any real rights past that.

    Owning property gives you exclusionary powers, meaning that you can determine who is and isn't allowed to come on, and the reasons for that can be highly arbitrary if you wish (barring violating equal rights statutes and such for public businesses, but those don't apply to a home). It does not give you unlimited rights. Signs don't change that, a sign lets people know what your policies are and as such can tell them what will get them kicked off, but it doesn't give you any more rights.
  • by VidEdit (703021) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:34PM (#20455651)
    "They have a right to detain you if there is reasonable suspicion that you've shoplifted. "

    The suspicion must be reasonable and that reasonability varies from state to state. One thing is clear, failure to submit to a voluntary bag search is not legal reason to detain someone.

    They had no legal right to detain the OP. They admitted to his face, when asked, that they were not accusing him of shoplifting--they just wanted to see in his bag. They had no right--literally.

    Stores do not have police powers! They cannot detain people and force them to submit to store policy! They can only detain people who have committed a crime they have directly witnessed, or, in some states, have **reasonable** cause to believe occurred. To affect a citizen's arrest, you must have witnessed a crime, not merely suspect one may have occurred.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:45PM (#20455805)
    Courts have dealt with this one many times: The refusal to consent to a search does NOT give reasonable suspicion of wrong doing. Otherwise, the police could always search you. If you said yes, ok they have consent, if you said no, they'd use that as reasonable suspicion and thus be able to do it. As such a refusal to a search cannot be weighed. In the case of shoplifting laws, they really have a pretty high burden. More or less it comes down to (and most stores have a policy to this effect) that they have to see you take the merchandise, maintain a visual of you having it (if you might have put it back they are screwed) and see you leave without making an effort to pay for it. If you are still in the store, no go, you could well intend to pay for it. Until you leave, you haven't actually taken anything.

    So there's no way in hell they had anything near a reasonable suspicion he stole something. This was just some moron at a store who figures their job as security guard makes them really important and wanted to show it off.
  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:04PM (#20455999) Homepage
    I'll post this here.

    A quick Google found this overview [crimedoctor.com]of what is allowed, not allowed and recommended in the case of shoplifting detention.

    Basically, they can't simply "suspect" someone or complain if he refuses to show a receipt. They need to SEE the suspect take the property. More details about "probable cause" are here [crimedoctor.com]. Details on the issue of false arrest are here [crimedoctor.com].

  • Re:Uphill battle... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Marful (861873) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:13PM (#20456113)
    In relation to "Shopkeeper's Privilege" which in most states falls under Common Law:

    Some states, such as Washington and California have codified their Common Law and incorporated them into the UCC and PC. California in particular, we have Penal Code 490.5 (f):

    Penal Code 490.5 f) (1) A merchant may detain a person for a reasonable time for the purpose of conducting an investigation in a reasonable manner whenever the merchant has probable cause to believe the person to be detained is attempting to unlawfully take or has unlawfully taken merchandise from the merchant's premises.


    Since (in California) PC 490.5(f) is in the Penal Code section of law, the definition of "Probable Cause" falls under that of the same Penal Code.

    Under PC 490.5(f) a shopkeeper must have "Probable Cause" to believe the person being detained is attempting to, or unlawfully took merchandise from the store.

    Since theft is a misdemeanor, and NOT a felony, then "Probable Cause" required to arrest requires direct first hand knowledge of the act or event taking place. i.e. An agent of the store must see personally, or via CCTV the act being committed.

    If the theft was a felony (grand theft), then the "Probable Cause" necessary to arrest for a felony only requires a "reasonable doubt".


    Regardless, refusal to submit to a search is not grounds for probable cause for either a misdemeanor or a felony. (Fourth Amendment Rights, confirmed numerous times by the US Supreme Court.)

  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:25PM (#20456249) Homepage Journal

    IANAL but I seem to recall (from researching it when I owned a storefront):

    Actually, this varies per state and per jurisdiction (ie: county, city, town) depending on the specific laws.

    Some states require that you must actually walk out the door with a product before you can be accused of attempting to shoplift... inotherwords if I go into a Circuit City and stuff a bunch of CDs in my shirt, until I step through that door, it isnt a crime... other states allow that action that (seems to) constitute intent as attempted shoplifting.

    As for jurisdictional borders/property... that varies as well per state. In some states, you cannot try to detain the person once they have left your building... in others you can (as long as they have not left your parking lot)... and in a few I believe you could try to detain them even after that.

    Even in states that allow you to detain people suspected of shoplifting in your parking lot, the waters get kind of murky there too... If you are in a shopping center, the parking lot is quite possibly not yours. If you are renting a space that has it's own parking and no rights of egress to others, then it is different. If you own the property and the parking, that too is different...

    As for Ohio, I have no clue.... but don't assume Ohio fits a particular circumstance as the laws are quite different in many places.

    In New York if I remember correctly, [at least in the county I was a store manager in (not a Circuit City)], we can detain you, and even request to see your receipts or request you let us inspect your bag(s), but cannot forcibly do so... if you refuse, which is your right, then we can detain you until the police arrive who then can search your bag if we sufficiently prove to them/convince them a crime (shoplifting) has occurred.

  • by VAXcat (674775) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:42PM (#20456451)
    The guy was arrested for failure to kneel at the zipper of a cop, which is illegal in any jurisdiction in the States. Cops can arrest you for any reason, or no reason at all. The city/state will always back them to the hilt, because if they don't the cops get petulant and stop writing traffic tickets, a revenue that the city government can't afford to lose. The game is rigged, and only in the grossest abuses of power, that are too glaring to cover up can anyone do anything about it...best thing to do - avoid cops and try not to look interesting or unusual..cops hate things that aren't normal and don't have the same values and beliefs that they do...
  • by SmoothTom (455688) <Tomas@TiJiL.org> on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:22PM (#20456801) Homepage
    ...Yeah, they are for Target, but notice especially the REQUIREMENTS about allowing a customer to leave or to have been actually observed stealing.

    http://targetfiling.blogspot.com/2007/05/target-ap -directives-revision-01-2006.html [blogspot.com]

    The person arrested here did NOT break the law, and should not have been arrested.

    The store manager and Asset Protection person DID break the law, and the police officer seriously bent it if not actually breaking it.

    I doubt a city attorney will choose to prosecute the person arrested.

    --
    Tomas
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:31PM (#20456893)
    No, they don't. They have the right to remove any and all persons who fail to use their property as they see fit, but that's all. Try it sometime, try something stupid, see if you don't land in jail. Have something like an "All women must remove their clothes at the door," policy. You can do that, and refuse entry to women that fail to comply, however if you let them in then try to forcibly disrobe them, you're going to jail for assault at the very least. I don't care that it's your property, you are not the king. You make the rules and those who fail to comply must leave, but you can't force them to stay and do as you please.

    Again the the Ohio statues you understand but don't. Yes, stores can detain someone if they've got a legal reason. Guess what? Refusing a search isn't a legal reason. Refusing a search is NEVER probable cause or reasonable suspicion for a search. This one has been tested in court, the rulings are crystal clear. Refusal to search may be taken as nothing other than that: A refusal to search. It cannot give cause for a search. Otherwise such a refusal would be meaningless.

    So again I'll say: Just owning property doesn't give you the right to do whatever you want. This is something you'd do well to understand, as you could get in real trouble with the attitude you have currently. In the case of purely private property you have essentially unlimited exclusionary rights, that is you can decide who is and is not allowed on the property for any reason you like, and change those reasons at any time (public businesses are more restricted, refusing access based on things like race is illegal). However that's all you get to do. You cannot force people to stay and do something they don't want. Doesn't matter if that's your "policy" doesn't matter if you have a sign, doesn't matter if you shout it from the hilltops. Your ownership of the property gives you the right to control access, not the right to force people to do as you please.
  • by Just Another Perl Ha (7483) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:40PM (#20457475) Journal
    ...not silly at all.

    Since the store most likely shares the parking lot with a number of other merchants, the parking lot is construed as a public thoroughfare (otherwise, the police wouldn't be involved with any traffic accidents therein).

    Sorry.... can't have it both ways.

    ---

    Yes... I really do have a 4 digit UserID (and gobs of karma to go with it)... so there...
  • Re:RTFA (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:11PM (#20457831)
    Christ. I swear that every fucking person on slashdot is an idiot, especially you.

    Stores are allowed to detain you if they have some specific reason to believe that you're shoplifting. So if they see you stealing some shit, then yes, you can be detained.

    But if you just walked from the checkout counter out the door, then no, they have no right to detain you.

    Christ amighty, for a bunch of nerds, you are all INCREDIBLY fucking stupid.
  • by drmerope (771119) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:15PM (#20457863)
    This went to the US Supreme Court. The Hiibel case law is as follows:

    * If the police ask your name you must give it, but you cannot be compelled to give any supporting documentation.
    * The majority also stated that if someone was convicted of a crime as a consequence of giving their name that the issue could be reconsidered under a Fifth Amendment challenge but that such a challenge did not apply in this particular case.
  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Monday September 03, 2007 @07:25PM (#20457943) Homepage Journal

    Actually you are incorrect. MOST states DO allow merchants to detain shoplifters (Google it)... a sufficient degree of probably cause is supposed to be determined by the merchant - and that degree, as required by law, varies per state.

    In our case, an employee had to witness the act - or suspect the act and be able to verify it on the recorded video footage...

    Now, in the event a detention occurred without probable cause (as defined by local and state laws/ordinances) then you would be correct.

    You can't just detain anyone...

    Here's one of many references...
    http://www.iapsc.org/uploaded_documents/bp1.doc

    a. The merchant's privilege provides for detention of persons suspected of shoplifting only when probable cause or reasonable cause exists to believe a person has committed theft. The best practice for establishing this probable cause (as compared to any legal standard) is the security person's having met all the following six steps: (1) observe the customer approach the merchandise, (2) observe the customer select the merchandise, (3) observe the customer conceal (or otherwise carry away) the merchandise, (4) keep the customer under constant and uninterrupted observation, (5) see the customer fail to pay for the merchandise, and (6) detain the customer outside the store.

    b. The merchant's privilege permits detention for limited purposes which vary by state. Common among these limited purposes are: (1) ascertaining that stolen merchandise is possessed by the suspect, (2) identifying the suspect, (3) investigating the alleged theft, (4) recovering stolen merchandise, and (5) notifying the police of the offense. Some states permit limited searches of the suspect, some states limit the extent to which identity may be established; and the use of force which can legally be used is, if mentioned, always non-deadly. Many company or store policies further restrict permissible actions in dealing with shoplifting suspects; e.g., prohibiting pursuing suspects beyond company property.

    Part a.6. definitely varies per state, and in some you have to stop them before they leave whatever is defined as your last point of pay (first exit door, decently past all registers, etc).

    MOST states allow a lot more than you think.... SOME even allow use of force to detain. SOME allow limited searches, AND MOST allow detainment. SOME (VERY FEW) require it to be done by a state licensed security person.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @10:53PM (#20459617)
    "Also, the guy in this case wasn't completely right. "

    Might be an idea to read your links and TFA.

    He gave his name and address, he is not required to provide ID. The cop can not arrest them for failing to provide an ID. Under Nevada law (like hibel) the officer can detain someone for up to 1 hour in order to check someones identity, however this case was not in Nevada. Even then the officer must have reasonable cause to think you have given false information.

    You'll note that the hibel case is actually very narrow:

    "the Court found that the officer's request for identification was a 'commonsense inquiry, not an effort to obtain an arrest for failure to identify after a Terry stop yielded insufficient evidence,' and thus did not violate the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment."

    In this case the officer arrested him "for not showing ID", after it was proven he had not shoplifted. The officer then changed his mind once at the station to impeding a police officer. Which is commonly becaming a catchall for whenever you annoy an officer, as they rarely get any fallout from doing so.

    Clearly in this instance the cop arrested the person first (likely because he was "difficult"), and came up with the charge later. Given the officer didn't even bother to read him his miranda rights, I think it's likely we simply have an officer acting in an unprofessional manner.
  • by bladesjester (774793) <slashdot&jameshollingshead,com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @10:59PM (#20459683) Homepage Journal
    According to his blog, he gave his name repeatedly.

    According to Ohio law, if asked by an officer, you only have to provide your name, address, or date of birth. You are in no way compelled to provide documentation when asked.
  • by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @12:02PM (#20466051) Homepage Journal

    [B]ecause the family was never the focus of the investigation, and they were never materially detained except through their own cooperation, they don't have a case.
    The family were, in fact, detained, though not by the police. According to the father (who was driving the car), one store employee was standing in front of the car, preventing it from moving forward, while another stood between the open door and the frame, preventing it from moving backward. I ain't passed the bar neither, but that sounds like they were detained against their will.

    On top of that, TFA reports they were emotionally shaken to the point of tears.

    [T]he civil suit against the corporation is tougher, because he has to show that he suffered a material harm.
    I think it would be considerably easier, actually. He was assaulted, physically detained, verbally abused, and the store employees tried to take his property from him. And they're the ones who unlawfully detained the family.
  • by devilspgd (652955) * <slashdot@devilspgd.net> on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:02PM (#20467087) Homepage
    You are receiving consideration, in the form of the product you purchased. The store's consideration is the cash you parted with to complete the sale.

    The requirement for mutual consideration isn't applied on each individual item within a transaction or contract, only on the entirety of the transaction, which may include other terms and conditions.

    If the purchaser and purchasee cannot reach mutually acceptable terms, either party could decline and the customer could simply depart without being included in this clause, so it would only impact those that made a purchase.

Hold on to the root.

Working...