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Lawyer Explains Why You Should Avoid Self-Checkout at All Costs

A collage of a self-checkout point and an image of Carrie Jernigan
Source: carriejernigan1/TikTok

Carrie Jernigan, a lawyer with a massive following on TikTok, recently raised a red flag about using self-service checkouts. She shared her concerns in a video that’s been viewed by over 2.1 million people. According to her, when you use a self-service checkout counter, you may be accused of theft (even if you didn’t steal anything).

All the fuss first started when Jernigan uploaded a video where she explained three things people would consider harmless that she avoided as a lawyer. Most of her followers were surprised that she mentioned the use of self-checkout, so she made another video for more clarity.

In the now-viral video, Jernigan, who is a criminal defense attorney, explained that there are three groups of people she had experienced being charged with theft after using the self-checkout option.

The first category are those individuals intentionally stealing who are skilled at going undetected. Then, there are individuals who accidentally forget to scan an item. Even though they didn’t intend to steal, they can still get in trouble. Lastly, there are innocent people who might face such accusations without any wrongdoing.

She explained that stores don’t take pity on innocent shoppers, and they could falsely accuse customers if their inventory numbers don’t add up.

According to Jernigan, even if a customer simply forgets an item while using the self-checkout option at a store, they could still be charged because big-box businesses wouldn’t want to go through the process of figuring out what really happened. She further explained that the third category are truly innocent, and most of the time, they don’t face charges until there’s an inventory count that 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. And, for some reason, they pinpoint that they think you did it,” Jernigan added. “And because of who these big box stores are, they usually have to present very little evidence to get an affidavit for warrant signed, the charges that could land you up to a year in jail get filed, and then you are fighting for your life trying to determine what day you were at Walmart, what all you bought.”

Even if you prove your innocence, the process can be lengthy and costly, especially if you need a lawyer. Jernigan suggests that it’s often not worth the risk considering that some customers could have just walked into a store to shop for a few items and could find themselves walking out with a shoplifting charge.

People shared their own stories of false accusations after using a self-checkout counter in the comment section of Jernigan’s video. One TikTok user, @lexiodens wrote, “My mom accidentally left a tiny $3 lemon oil in her cart after buying $300 in groceries. She was charged with theft and had to do community service.” 

Another user, @catladykaren recalled her horrible experience saying, “Took me 7 months and cost me 6,000 to clear my name after I was falsely accused and the evidence should have exonerated me immediately.”


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