Can I please get some legal advice? Shoplifting charge pressed against me by...

  1. ... my own university!

    Here are the (undisputed) facts:
    • 3 other students and myself went to the bookstore to purchase sketchbooks for an art class. We saw an unmarked, empty cardbox box in the middle of the bookstore, so we picked it up.
    • We took our sketchbooks, and the cardboard box to the register. Paid for the sketchbooks. Walked out. *I* was holding the box.
    • Apparently this was "caught" on camera. Today I was charged $200 for "shoplifting" despite the fact that this box was NOT merchandise (according to the bookstore), and a formal complaint was filed against me for shoplifting (which will show up on my record).
    • *No one* else in my group was charged except me, because I was holding the box.
    • Also, the director of the bookstore repeatedly stated that I had "an attitude problem" and that I needed an "adjustment" when honestly, I was firm but polite in my insistence that I (we) meant no malice in taking the box: as is clear by the fact we paid for our other items, we weren't trying to covertly sneak the box out.
    I have no idea what to do. First of all, I offered to replace the box. That apparently was not good enough because I was fined $200 which seems excessive and unfair. Add a charge of shoplifting to that: are you kidding?

    I have a 3.8 GPA with two majors. My dad actually taught at my university. I'm a good kid, and I cannot believe they are coming down this hard on me.

    Oh, the crowning moment? When I said to the director of the bookstore: "I'm not some frat boy trying to pull a prank. I really didn't mean any harm." His reply: "Fraternities are excellent organizations and if you spent more time around them you'd know that. Clearly your have an attitude that needs adjustment."

    Listen, buddy, I'm in a sorority!

    Anyway, what an awful day.:crybaby:

    Thanks for any advice, guys.
  2. By the way, we were using the cardboard box for an art project.
  3. Did you ask about the box when you were at the register? Is this a kind of box you see frequently in the bookstore? Do you know what they do with these boxes??

    Why was the box worth $200 dollars?

    That would be terrible at this time for you to get something like that on your personnal record. Did they call the police? Or is this going to go on your school record only?

    If school only, I would go right to the Dean's or Vice Presidents office immediatly! Explain the problem and also that if you were guilty of any wrongdoing you wouldn't be taking the time to correct it. Also, that you will not stop going as high as you need to go in order to correct it.

    If you are going to be charged in a formal complaint by them with the police then you need to contact a lawyer immediatly to see what your options are. If it was worth 200 dollars that's a misdemeanor, but would still stay on your record. Perhaps a letter from a lawyer could change their mind.

    I hope this works out for you! That is aweful for you!!
  4. The box was a small, disposable, tube-like box the bookstore used to hold posters. However, there was nothing in the box.

    We did not ask about the box at the register, which was probably a poor decision. We were searching for cardboard all over campus that day for a project, so we just picked it up.

    The box wasn't worth $200. The $200 charge is because I have an "attitude problem."
  5. For sure it will go on my school record and then the judicial affairs will decide whether or not to press formal charges with the police.

    FOR A CARDBOARD BOX my group and I used in an art project!
  6. I'd suggest meeting with your attourney. It sounds like an unfounded charge to me, but I'm not qualified to give legal advice. I hope everything sorts itself out!
  7. That is INSANE! It's a piece of cardboard. Obviously this bookstore guy has nothing else to do and needs some excitement in his life. Sorry this happened!
  8. Wow, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I go to a university too and man are they harsh when it comes to rules. I don't understand why they'd think that you'd be stealing it since it was clearly an empty cardbox box, and if so why didn't the cashier say anything like 'Are you going to pay for that?' I think the fine would have been enough since it was a honest mistake, but shplifting charges and a formal complaint is just too much imo. I'm sorry to hear what is happening. Maybe you should go to the dean's office like what tr444 said and try to get it worked out over there. Sorry to hear about your awful situation.
  9. So then this is just a strike against you at the college? Nothing formal with police or anything? Then you need to get yourself right to the Dean or VP's office tomorrow morning and insist on seeing them right away and do not move until they let you and you go and clear this up with them first before anyone else gets to them and explain what happend. That you don't have any previous problems, that you really just thought you were picking up a plain ole' cardboard box!! Hopefully they will see your side of it and help you out. But I would go there right away and take care of this!!! Good luck to you!
  10. Yes, and I'm sure that judicial affairs will know that they will get laughed right out of anywhere if they were to say, she stole a cardboard box!!! They are not going to pay lawyers for that. Your best bet is to go to the Dean or VP and get them on your side as fast as you can so they can squash this possibly.
  11. Thanks tr444 and everyone, I'm going to my dean's office tomorrow.
  12. You should really call an attorney in your state asap...

  13. And Intlset, don't be cocky but act like you are completely mortified that any sane person would accuse another person of stealing a CARDBOARD BOX!!! Like you have never heard of this before, honestly!! Also say what kind of a student you are and that you certainly hope that something like this does not become public knowledge (scare them that the college would look like fools) (but nicely) and that you hope he/she can help you to straighten this out for BOTH your sakes!! Good luck, let us know how it goes!!
  14. March into your deans office- this was an innocent mistake and you should not be penalized by having something like this on your record. Offer to pay restitution to the school in exchange that no charges, informal or otherwise, be brought against you. Don't be snide, just explain that this was a stupid mistake and you had no intention of stealing anything, you simply thought this was trash- it is afterall an empty cardboard box. Explain that you aspire to go to graduate school (even if you don't) and something like this could ruin your academic career (even if it won't). You would be happy to apologize to the store manager or whomever (with your best fake smile) to make ammence.

    Good luck~ I am sure it will all work out!!! We are all here for you!!!

    ONe more thing: if there was any mention of a formal charge or ticket- you should call an attorney ASAP! This is something you can easily negotiate out of as a first time offense. In the end, you simply would pay a fine and the ticket would be held in abeyance for a period of time. If you are a good girl, then the charge/ticket simply goes away like it never happened.
  15. Haha, thanks, tr444!! I think my "attitude" came from the fact that I literally met with 3 different people, 3 times today, for a total of about 2 hours over a cardboard box. I will drop this attitude immediately, thanks for pointing that out.