All Charges Dropped Against Circuit City Receipt Refuser

Legal charges have been dropped against Michael Righi (pictured), the guy arrested after refusing to show his receipt to Circuit City, and his driver’s license to a police officer, in exchange for Righi’s pledge to not sue the city. On his blog, Righi writes that he was willing to fight the city to the end without forfeiting any rights whatsoever, but he wanted to spare his family, who would have been principal witnesses, from a protracted legal battle.

Circuit City shopper, city of Brooklyn resolve dispute over arrest [The Plain Dealer]
Success [Michael Righi]
PREVIOUSLY: Circuit City Customer Arrested After Refusing To Show Receipt


Edit Your Comment

  1. Uriel says:

    Way to fight the good fight Righi…almost…

  2. Mike_ says:

    Wait, so all you have to do is agree not to hold the government accountable, and they’ll drop the meritless criminal charges? And conversely, if you pursue legal action against the city, the prosecutor will retaliate by moving forward with the criminal proceedings? … that doesn’t seem at all ethical.

  3. Illusio26 says:

    I’m a little sad he never went fully through with his legal battle. But after readying his blog, I can understand why he would let it drop and move on.

  4. Uriel says:

    @Mike_: seeing as the charges were totally fraudulent, and every legal advisor and their mother agreed that they had no merit, it would seem that the Brooklyn City Prosecutor, used a bargaining chip that didn’t actually exist.

  5. Canadian Impostor says:

    “If you don’t sue us, we won’t press these baseless charges against you.”

  6. Mike_ says:

    It should have been: “In exchange for his generous pledge not to sue the pants off the city, the Brooklyn police force will undergo training on Ohio’s Stop and Identify Law, as well as a refresher course on civil rights. The Chief of Police has personally apologized, and the arresting officer has been disciplined. The criminal charges were dropped because they were completely absurd.”

  7. Uriel says:

    hmm, it would seem that Brooklyn is some sort of bizarro land, and these disputes were settled when Arthur Fonzie Fonzarelli walked into the City Prosecutors office, knocked three times on his desk, did a spin, pointed at both Righi, and Hynes, proclaimed “AAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!”, and all was right in the world.

  8. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    Well, I still have way more respect for him than all of the “just do what the authoritah sez” people on the original thread here. Not everyone has the personal or financial resources to go through what might be a years-long legal process. Although, perhaps, he’d change his mind if alla you “fight da Man” types raised umpteen thousand dolla dolla bills for a legal fund…

    *lo, how the crickets doth chirp*

  9. kweee says:

    Sue the city anyway. A “we won’t put you in jail if you don’t sue us” agreement seems like nothing more than extortion.

    And while he’s at it, sue the City–Circuit City–for getting him into this mess to begin with.

  10. Uriel says:

    @King of the Wild Frontier:
    With this kinda bullshit, his lawyer would’ve probably worked pro bono, as it seems like a slam dunk.

  11. I read his blog. He never had any intention to sue anyone in the first place. He also noted that Ohio already had two cases that set legal precedents for the stop and identify laws which is what he was trying to accomplish in the first place.

    He went on to say that going further with the case would have disrupted the lives of his sister in California as well as her children and it would have also caused his father to cancel business trips to Europe. He also cited some family reason he chose not to disclose.

    All in all, he’d have very little to gain from the incident. If he feels that everything has worked out for him, who are we do judge?

  12. @King of the Wild Frontier: I don’t think it was for just financial reasons that he wanted to spare his family from a long trial.

  13. Antediluvian says:

    I’m disappointed — according to the article, he says (per the agreement) the police did nothing wrong in asking him for his Driver’s License.

    I’ll check out the blog at some point to get more info, but based on the linked article, that’s too bad.

  14. Antediluvian says:

    I’d think it would have been possible to negotiate an agreement that DID NOT say he thought the police did nothing wrong, but that said something like “I make no statement about the legality of the police action but shall not sue the city regardless.”

    It’s also QUITE possible the paper is in error or is misinterpreting the situation.

  15. Falconfire says:

    @Antediluvian: The police DID do nothing wrong, thats a given and that has been agreed by everyone.

    They CAN ask for your license, they just can NOT do anything about it if you say no. That was where the police fucked up and that is where his case would have been won.

  16. @Antediluvian: They lied in the article: the agreement says no such thing.

    The police DID do nothing wrong…
    That was where the police fucked up…

    @Falconfire: Um, what?

  17. mantari says:

    “Okay! Okay! If you promise not to attempt to prosecute me on something which experts agree have no legal weight, then I won’t sue for my actual and real civil rights violations!”

    It may be what he wanted, but he wasn’t a shrewd negotiator. He at least could have twisted some arms to get some $$ out of it. Unfortunately, it kind of looks like he loses all the way around, going from a superior position, into the position of before the whole thing started.

  18. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Antediluvian: I’m disappointed — according to the article, he says (per the agreement) the police did nothing wrong in asking him for his Driver’s License.

    Indeed. The thing they did wrong was to arrest him when he refused to produce it.

  19. sleze69 says:

    Yes, Ohio is not your typical state.

    You really can’t even vote there. Do a google search for Ohio and voter fraud. You’ll even get hits in the news section.

  20. So — he says he is going to donate the $ he received to the ACLU — it’ll be interesting to see if he posts any proof of that.

  21. Falconfire says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Helps if you actually read what I said to Antediluvian since I was responding to him.

    1) The police ARE allowed to ask for your license, this is not illegal in Ohio and the police did NOTHING wrong in asking this.

    2) YOU are allowed to say no. This is where the police fucked up since they then decided to arrest him, but Ohio law states that they just have to accept that as fact and move on to just taking his name and address.

    Antediluvian was stating that he thought the Ohio police broke the law in even asking, but thats false they did not break the law in asking, only in thinking that their asking meant he was legally required to give, which he was not.

  22. Antediluvian says:

    @Falconfire: I agree with you; in my haste to be timely I misstated my objections to the settlement. My point was just that I do believe the police did something wrong [asking/arresting/other; doesn’t matter for the discussion but obviously matters in court, and yes, it was the arresting part], and the settlement stipulates they did not do something wrong.

    Thanks for the clarification[s]; my understanding is that in general, police are ALLOWED to ask an awful lot of things, but the times you are REQUIRED to answer are more limited.

    But regardless, I would have liked to see a settlement that says, “the police shall not illegally arrest people for failing to produce ID under non-obligatory circumstances,” or something to that effect. Hell, they could even put that part in the settlement without stipulating they improperly arrested the man.

    And I’ll further concede that I have NOT read the settlement or the blog, so I could be totally off base here. My only insight comes from actually reading the linked newspaper article.

  23. Red_Eye says:

    @Mike_: Yeah in other cases we would call something like this blackmail.

    From “5. to force or coerce into a particular action, statement, etc.”

    Too bad the guy didnt have what it took to stand up for his rights.

  24. TPK says:

    Suggest you read the blog and newspaper article. Sadly, it’s no surprise that the article’s second sentence is absolutely false, and completely negates the truth of the entire article. Way to go reporter Michael Sangiacomo. His e-mail address is at the end of the article. Maybe he should start reading the help wanted section of his own paper for something he might actually be qualified for.

  25. Helps if you actually read what I said to Antediluvian since I was responding to him.

    @Falconfire: I did read what you said, hence the confusion. I just didn’t think it was necessary to copy and paste the entire thing. You said the police did nothing wrong and then said they messed up by arresting him for not showing the license.

    It doesn’t make sense to say they did nothing wrong if they f’ed up.

  26. chili_dog says:

    Ha, I bought a printer at Best Buy just today and GLADLY showed my receipt at the door when asked. You know why, because I knew I would anger 85% of the consumerist readers. Bahahahahahahaha

  27. chili_dog says:

    @Falconfire: “They CAN ask for your license, they just can NOT do anything about it if you say no.” That is not entirely true. If the police have a reasonable expectation that you need to be positively identified, they can and WILL detain you until your identity is proven. AZ and NV has laws that are about just this, but only in the event that the police believe a crime was committed.

  28. aikoto says:

    It sucks that his family would have become involved. If not for that, he probably would have taken this all the way. The legal system is so broken.

  29. warf0x0r says:

    For anyone who gets this far down. In his blog Michael says that the fact that he had to admit the police did nothing wrong is not correct. Read the blog entry as it seems to contain all the facts… backed up with documentation in most instances.

  30. coan_net says:

    I’m sorry – but what was the point then?

    I mean I think it was stupid for not showing the receipt in the first place – but for some reason this person wanted to “Stand up to the man” – but then later just says “Sorry, I don’t want to stand up to the man anymore”????

    What is up with that?

  31. Someone PLEASE explain to me why it is such a big deal to show your FREAKIN’ receipt. I don’t get it. He had the receipt, why not show it? What the hell’s a matter with this guy?

  32. Aeroracere says:

    Is there a website somewhere out there that lists the show and identify laws through the US state-by-state? This has made me curious what the laws are here in Massachusetts.

  33. Jerim says:


    They did NOT arrest him for refusing to show his receipt. They arrested him on suspicion of shoplifting. Everyone seems to be relating two separate incidences. If you commit a crime, and an officer asks for your receipt, you can refuse. But he is still going to arrest you for committing the crime. All it takes to get arrested is witness accusing you of something plausible. The police will attempt a very superficial investigation to make sure your claims are plausible. If they are, then they arrest you and let the DA sort it out. Every one is arrested on suspicion of committing a crime. The truth comes out in court. In this case, the police could have just taken him to jail, but they gave him a chance to prove his innocence. Without that proof, what are they supposed to do? Exactly what they did, which is arrest him and let the court figure it out.

    Now, company policy may be to personally witness the shoplifting in action, but that is just store policy. The store wants that policy because they don’t want to take a chance on arrest someone, going to court without an eyewitness, and risk some lawyer getting the guy off. That is a waste of company resources. But that isn’t a pre-requisite to being arrested. You can pretty much have anyone arrested at any time, the bar isn’t set that high. That is where you get “false arrest” and “false statement to police” from.

    The city isn’t saying he is innocent, they just looked at the case and knew that even if they won, the money spent wouldn’t be worth it. So they wanted to drop the case. DA’s do it all the time. Sometimes, even if a crime has been committed, it is just not worth the resources to pursue it. However, they didn’t want to drop the case and turn around and have the guy sue for false arrest or twist it into they arrested him for refusing to show his receipt. If the guy was going to sue, then it would definitely be worth the resources to convict him.

  34. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @JLP at AllFinancialMatters:Someone PLEASE explain to me why it is such a big deal to show your FREAKIN’ receipt. I don’t get it.

    It’s not so much that it’s a big deal, as it is violation of etiquette and common courtesy. Absent a criminal investigation, I do not have to justify or prove ownership for MY property to anyone, no matter how trivial or inconsequential such request may be.

    Simply put, it’s rude. And the appropriate answer to a rude personal request is to ignore it, or to respond with a simple and polite “No you may not.”

    It’s only when there is further inappropriate escalation on the part of the employee that it becomes a big deal.

  35. Buran says:

    @JLP at AllFinancialMatters: Just … do you not pay attention or something? EVERY SINGLE THREAD on receipt showing has someone asking this. SEARCH! CLICK! READ!

  36. cryrevolution says:

    @CHILI_DOG: In the state of OH, the law states that if you refuse to give up your DL, the officer does not have the authority to detain you. You do, however, have to give up your name and address. The only way an officer can detain you is if you were seen committing a crime and someone physically witnessed you doing so. He was not witnessed, nor was under suspicion of committing anything, so the officer had no right to arrest him. He just did it because, well, the officer’s knowledge of the law might have been hazy. Yeah.

  37. cryrevolution says:

    Just to summarize, nobody has ANY AUTHORITY to detain you UNLESS someone has physically seen you commit a crime. That is the law. Not store policy, the law. The police officer was called to the scene because he refused the receipt check. The officer then stood between him and the vehicle, making it impossible for this man to reach his car. The officer asked for identification, he refused his drivers license (which, under OH law, is LEGAL) and the officer arrested him. Since the store failed to produce a witness to the crime, he should not have been detained. Thats it.

  38. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @chili_dog: Evil laughter is usually “Muhahahahahahaaaa”
    @cryrevolution: You are correct. There are several key events which must occur before you can even be stopped for suspicion of shoplifting. And remember, kiddies, it’s not shoplifting if they stop you before you physically exit the store. Muhahahahahaha!
    What if I put my receipt in my pants?

  39. cde says:

    @Jerim: Except for the part where, 1) the only (un)reasonable suspicion for theft was that he didn’t produce a receipt, which he did, to the police, not the store clerk. and 2) He was (falsely) arrested for disobeying the officer, as evident by the ticket he received after being booked.

  40. Jerim says:


    Honestly, I may be confusing this case with another one. I apologize. If what you said is true, and he showed the receipt to the police, I don’t understand why they arrested him.

  41. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @doctor_cos: And remember, kiddies, it’s not shoplifting if they stop you before you physically exit the store.

    Not necessarily. Many States make it a crime if simply pass the point of purchase and walk toward the exit. Some make it a crime to simply conceal the merchandise with the intent of taking it (though it’s hard to prove intent until after they pass the registers, so it’s essentially the exact same thing)

  42. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Well, in Ohio, it’s not…until you leave, and my former home state (err) is where the points were in play:
    1. They have to see you looking at the item.
    2. They have to see you pick up the item.
    3. They have to see you conceal the item.
    4. From this point forward, you must be in view of the observer at all times until you physically exit the store with the concealed item.
    If these 4 conditions are not met, it’s not a crime. I’ve known people who are arrested without even leaving the store, and bullied into paying some civil fine, and then some bullshit judgement to the store (again in Ohio, up to 3 times the price of the item in question) even though no crime has been committed.
    Not that I was inciting civil disobedience, say, pushing a cart full of movies right up to the door at Circuit City and then leaving them just inside the door and leaving the store. Muhahahahahah! Somewhere I have a roll of activated sensor-matic tags which is real fun during the holidays.

  43. chili_dog says:

    Wasn;t being evil as much as just having a good guffaw over how worked up everyone gets over this totally asinine issue of receipt checking.

    All I know is when the employee asks for the receipt, WHO CARES. just show it and move on. If ya want to fight, fight over something important.

  44. AlexG32 says:

    He is fighting over something important. He doesn’t want to have his rights taken away by a store, or the police. Just because it would be easier for him to give in and show the receipt, doesn’t mean he should.

  45. Cynical Synapse says:

    Jerim, you’re right about confusing this case with another. Mr. Righi was arrested for refusing to show his driver’s license after he called the police because Circuit City employees were detaining him for not showing his receipt. He was charged with obstructing official business, not shoplifting.

    You hit the nail on the head, Alexg32. There is a larger issue here and people like Chili_Dog don’t get it. Remember that one day when you realize just how many of your rights you subtly gave up one at time whenever someone had a better idea in the name of security.

    As for the remarks concerning Mr. Righi’s motives for doing this in the first place and for accepting the agreement, we don’t know all of the nuances. Don’t rely on the Plain Dealer article; that paper’s little better than the Enquirer when it comes to sensationalism. If you haven’t read Michale Righi’s blog then don’t rush to judgment here.

    If nothing else, this situation has provided an opportunity for lots of people to look at, consider, and discuss the issues from both sides. I’m pleased the majority of commentors are against the concept of receipt checking which I think is both ineffective and, in fact, counter-productive. Besides bad customer relations, it fosters a mentality of “guilty-until-proven-innocent.” This should be unacceptable to those of us who are law abiding and Mr. Righi’s legal costs to assert that is exactly why we should not tolerate receipt checks.

  46. chili_dog says:

    The slippery slope argument is a fallacy and doesn’t apply. Besides, It’s a retail establishment, not the government so what “rights” are they taking away?

    Not showing a receipt when asked is just another way for you to look like an ass in front of many. But please, don;t let me stop you from doing just that because I do find it humorous.