You were either arrested and put through the arrest process or you were issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for shoplifting (New York Penal Law 155.25 or 165.40) after store security stopped you with a pair of jeans hidden away in your bag at Macey's or some makeup buried in your pocket at Bloomingdales. Although you have never been in trouble before, you now face the grim reality that you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney regarding your shoplifting arrest or Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) and the ramifications of the associated misdemeanor crimes.
Regardless of what you are alleged to have shoplifted (clothing, electronics, makeup, jewelry, etc.), the crimes you now face are misdemeanor offenses in New York as long as the value of the property stolen does not exceed $1000 (with some exceptions). That is right....whether the property was a $750 watch or a $5 pair of socks, the misdemeanor crimes of Petit Larceny (NY PL 155.25) or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the 5th Degree (NY PL 165.40) are the two charges you will be facing and addressing with your New York criminal defense lawyer. Make no mistake. The "shoplifting misdemeanors" are punishable by up to one year in jail and are just as serious under the law as misdemeanor Assault, Criminal Mischief and even Forgery.
According to New York Penal Law Section 155.25, a person is guilty of Petit Larceny when he steals property.
According to New York Penal Law Section 165.40, a person is guilty of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impeded the recovery of an owner thereof.
Both of the above-mentioned crimes are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail. Although jail in New York City is rarely associated with these crimes for first time offenders, the bigger issue is avoiding the criminal record at all. In Manhattan, for example, a common disposition is a 240.40 Disorderly Conduct if the theft is nominal, the accused has no record, the property was recovered, no resisting or violence was involved and there are other mitigating factors. While not a crime and "only" a violation, a college student, professional in any capacity or anyone who needs certification would want to consult with a criminal defense attorney about whether or not he or she should accept such a disposition assuming it is offered. A very real concern with this violation of the penal law as a plea bargain is that while it technically seals, Disorderly Conducts have been known to "pop" on a background check. Therefore, a future employer or anyone conducting a background check may find out years down the road that you were arrested and charged with a theft crime. Whether that means you are working on your masters degree to become a teacher, you are employed in finance or you not sure what job / career you will have five years from now, you do not want a Disorderly Conduct impacting your future. When this arrest is uncovered the record will not reflect that you were "merely" arrested or issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for stealing a $10 bracelet, but that you were charged with Petit Larceny which, as noted above, can be a theft of any property $1000 or less.
Ultimately, if you are charged with Petit Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property due to a shoplifting arrest or Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) in Manhattan, Brooklyn or anywhere else in New York City, consult with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney about whether you should accept a Disorderly Conduct if it is offered. Although each case must be assessed individually, it may be worth your time and effort fight the case to exonerate yourself completely or, in the alternative, seek to obtain an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) whereby the case will be dismissed and sealed six months later.
For further information on shoplifting go to NYShopliftingLawyers.Com and search the blog for related materials.
Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors who served under Robert Morgenthau, Crotty Saland PC is a Manhattan based criminal defense firm representing clients throughout New York City and the region.