Arrested for Shoplifting in New York: Criminal Defense, Potential Criminal Charges & Consequences

Your criminal defense attorney or lawyer has heard the charges before…Petit Larceny (NY PL 155.25)…Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (NY PL 165.40)…Grand Larceny (NY PL 155.30)…Yes, even Burglary (NY PL 140.20). Unfortunately, you where caught shoplifting a sweater from Bloomingdales in Manhattan or pair of shoes from Macys in Brooklyn. Security stops you on the way out and confiscates the property from you. You tell them you will never do it again if they let you go (oops…you may have just unwittingly made an admission!!!). The next thing you know you are given a notice telling you your right to be in that particular store is revoked and that there is a civil fine you must pay. If that wasn’t enough, the police arrive and escort you, in handcuffs, to the resort and spa known as “central booking.” If you are fortunate, the police issue you a Desk Appearance Ticket (D.A.T. / DAT).

“Simple” shoplifting has enormous and life altering consequences. Aside from the embarrassment, shame and potential loss of of your job if your employer finds out, the charges you may face are numerous. Even if you plea to a lesser Disorderly Conduct (a violation and not a crime), a background check down the road may reveal your shoplifting arrest.

In general, when you take property (here, the sweater or shoes) that do not belong to you, you may be guilty of Petit Larceny. In the event that the value of the property exceeds one thousand dollars, three thousand dollars or fifty thousand, then you may be guilty of Grand Larceny in the fourth, third and second degree respectively. Petit Larceny is punishable by up to one year in jail and Grand Larceny in the fourth through second degrees is punishable by up to four, seven, and fifteen years respectively.

Another potential crime is Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. The easiest way to understand this offense is to know that if you take property and you keep it knowing that you do not have permission to do so and you have no intention of returning it, then you may be guilt of this crime. While this crime is different than Petit and Grand Larceny, they are somewhat interchangeable in that the sentences for the misdemeanor and felony versions follow the same guidelines as the larceny offenses as indicated above.

Another potential charge, although less common, is Burglary. If you are advised that your right to enter a particular store has been revoked (it should be in writing) and you return and attempt to steal again, you may be committing a Burglary. Moreover, in the event that you enter an area of a store that is off limits and that is not open to the public and you attempt or complete a crime you also may be charged with Burglary. This offense is a “D” felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison.

If you are charged with one or more of these crimes in relation to a shoplifting allegation, you should be ready to sit down with your criminal defense attorney and answer a few questions so that a plan of attack can be formulated and implemented for you. For example, did you bypass the cash registers when you were stopped or were you still in the store? Did you place multiple items in your bag or were you holding them? Did you have a “booster” bag or was this merely a mistake and you intended to pay? Was the area that was off limits clearly marked? Whatever your circumstances, you must understand that even avoiding a conviction for Petit Larceny can still come back to “haunt” you years down the road when you graduate college, apply for a new job or attempt to get clearance or state / federal certification. Saland Law PC is a criminal defense firm representing clients in theft related matters throughout the metropolitan New York region. Former Manhattan prosecutors, the attorneys at Saland Law PC have extensive experience handling larceny crimes as both assistant district attorneys and criminal defense lawyers.

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