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Supermarket self-checkouts are a convenient way to complete a quick grocery shop, however, one lawyer has claimed she never uses them and avoids them for a specific reason.

Criminal defence lawyer Carrie Jernigan (@carriejernigan1) explained in a viral TikTok video with over 3.2m views why she warns shoppers against using the machines.

“As a criminal defense attorney, I advise most people to steer clear of self-checkout," Jernigan said.

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She then goes to on explain the "three groups" which are the different types of people who end up facing shoplifting charges as a result of using the self-checkouts.

The first group is the shoppers "with the intent to steal," as Jernigan noted that when self-checkouts first started "it was a very basic theft approach," where they would scan a few items they planned to pay for and then drop a few items they didn't plan to pay for.

But due to the advancement of technology, this is not as simple so shoplifters need to have a "very specific plan" in terms of what they are stealing and the methods they use to shoplift.

The second group are "theft by mistake," who Jernigan says are "the people that I genuinely think just forgot to scan an item," and gave example like leaving an item at the bottom of the shopping cart or a DVD that has slid under the purse.

Although there was no intention to steal, she says these shoppers end up being charged as "big-box stores aren’t going to spend their time and resources trying to figure out if you did it on purpose."


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Jernigan then shared how the third group are the “truly innocent," where “most of these are not getting charged day of."

Instead, they face charges at a later date as a result if someone in the store's asset protection department does an inventory count or quality control check and “later comes up short."

“So they will begin watching hours of video to see the last person who checked out with the Mario Lego set because they’re two short or an Xbox game. And, for some reason, they pinpoint that they think you did it,” she added.

The TikTok lawyer also claimed how large retailers get an affidavit for warrants on the charges, with "very little evidence" needed.

So what kind of punishment could shoppers be looking at?

"The charges that could land you up to a year in jail,” Jernigan warned and added how the person charged will be "fighting for their life" trying to figure out "what day you were at Walmart, and what all you bought."

She also revealed what the role of a defence lawyer is in a case like this.

“You have to spend thousands of dollars hiring a lawyer and we have to go through grainy video footage to try to determine what all you bought that day.”

To avoid predicaments like Jernigan mentioned, she advised viewers to pay by card at self-checkouts and to also keep proof of what items were purchased too.

indy100 has contacted Walmart for comment.

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