My question involves criminal law for the state of: NEW JERSEY
Early this year I was accused of shoplifting in a Century 21 Department Store and was brought to an LP office where I was told if I didnt sign the paperwork, the cops would be called. I had ripped a tag off a pair of shoes and put in in the box with another pair and brought it up to the register. My reasoning for this was because it was the same pair of shoes, both different prices. I probably should have brought the other pair up, but instead just took the tag. When I got to the register I was approached by the stores LP and accused of trying to steal. I didnt have time to ask the cashier why there was a difference in price before I was approached. I did not try switching any tags, I did not pay for the merchandise and I did not walk out the door with anything. therefore showing no intent. I honestly did not plan on doing anything wrong. I was detained against my will when I tried to leave and the LP put his hands on me and locked the doors, and also threatened to have the cops called on me.
I hesitated at the moment because I starting thinking maybe I did do something wrong and didnt want anything going on my record (which is clean). I was brought up to an office where I was told that I would sign some paperwork and be on my way. I was told that the only stipulation of the paperwork was that I wasn't allowed in the store for another 7 years and that Century 21 has the right to sue me if they wanted to (but was assured this never happens). I was also told that the information stayed in the store only and was assured no one had access to it except Century 21. I was made to feel like a was a criminal, I even thought I actually did do what he said I did until I left and had a chance to think about eveything that had just happened.
A few months later I recieved a letter from the company's lawyers asking a civil demand of 5x the amount of the "discount" that I was accused of trying to get. I paid the fine because I did not want any complications and wanted to forget about any of this happening. I was willing to pay for the stupid "mistake" just to have peace of mind. Recently, I have applied for some work and have been denied due to me being listed on the National Theft Database. First off, I honestly had no intent on stealing anything from Century 21, I did not know that ripping a tag off of merchandise and bringing it to the register was considered shoplifting.
I am 24 years old with a clean record, and a student with a 3.7 gpa. I am also getting married next December and am finding it impossible to find work now to pay for my debts. This incident is beginning to ruin my life. I am an honest student and am finding it terribly troubling that I am listed in this database and wont be able to find a job to pay my debts, school or wedding. I need to know if there is anything i can do to get my name removed. I feel like I was wrongly accused by the LP at the store. I know I signed the paperwork, but I was in a rush to get to a Mid Term and I also was being threatened if I did not, the cops would be called. I have never been in trouble in my entire life and really do not understand why this would happen to me. I should have let them call the cops