Don’t shoplift or don’t get caught may be the best advice anyone – criminal lawyer or not – can give to someone who plans on shoplifting or even wants that angel on his or her shoulder when that spur of the moment pang kicks in. While the former is a far better choice, the reality of the world is that many people do shoplift and countless numbers of those people get arrested and prosecuted for crimes. Whether you are a foreign national with an H-1B or an F-1 visa, a financial services provider regulated by FINRA, an accountant, lawyer, teacher, nurse, bartender, construction worker, student or stay-at-home-mom, the charges you will likely face are the same. Certainly, destroying merchandise by tearing off security devices, changing tags, or being part of a larger crew may impact the ultimate charges you face or tenacity of the District Attorney’s Office in pursuing those charges, but assuming the value of the items stolen is $1,000 or less then the two likely crimes are Petit Larceny, NY PL 155.25, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, NY PL 165.40. This blog entry will address these potential shoplifting offenses and arrests at both The Westchester and Galleria Mall in White Plains, New York.
No, there are no different set of crimes that you would face merely because you were arrested at either Westchester County’s Galleria Mall or The Westchester. What is different is how or where you will be prosecuted. Although the main office for the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office is in White Plains there is also a local or branch office located there as well. It is this White Plains Branch Office, located just steps from both malls, where you will be prosecuted. The branch office and White Plains City Court are each located in the same building off of Lexington Avenue. Directions aside, the White Plains City Court is a relatively busy court handling all matters from drug possessions and fist fights to trespassing and shoplifting within the City of White Plains.
Upon arrest for New York Penal Law 155.25 or New York Penal Law 165.40, you will be booked, finger printed and processed by the White Plains Police Department, you guessed it right, in the same building as the court and District Attorney’s Office. You may be issued an appearance ticket to return to court or may be held to see a judge. Ultimately, you will be arraigned where you will formally be advised of your charges and crimes.
Briefly, as noted multiple times, irrespective of whether you are accused of stealing from Coach, J Crew, Gap, Lulu lemon, the Apple Store, Sears, or one of the many retailers at either mall, the threshold question for prosecution will be the value of the property you are claimed to have attempted to or actually stolen (without digressing too much, do not confuse actual and attempted. In the State of New York one need not leave the store to be charged with a completed from of larceny). Assuming the value is equal to or less than $1,000, then the crimes again are the class “A” misdemeanors mentioned above with a potential sentence of up to one year in jail. If the District Attorney believes there is merit for a downward departure, and you have demonstrated grounds, then the prosecution could offer you two non-criminal alternatives. These are the Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) or Disorderly Conduct. The former is a dismissal after six months. Do not be mislead, however. There is no right or guarantee the prosecution will offer you anything at all.
In the event that the value of the property is in excess of $1,000, then the likely crimes you will face are bumped up to felony shoplifting charges. These crimes are Fourth Degree Grand Larceny and Third Degree Grand Larceny, NY PL 155.30 and NY PL 155.35 respectively. Similarly, the possession of this stolen property, even if someone else stole it, but you knew it was stolen, is Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property and Third Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, NY PL 165.45 and NY PL 165.50 respectively. The Fourth Degree crimes are class “E” felonies with punishment up to four years in prison while the Third Degree crimes are class “D” felonies with punishment up to seven years in prison. Unlike the lesser misdemeanor offenses prosecuted solely in White Plains City Court, if you are accused of a felony and your case is indicted by a Grand Jury, then your matter will be transferred to Westchester County Court located in just around the corner from the White Plains City Court. Very simply, neither you nor your criminal defense attorney want to be there defending your case.
It is of critical important that if you are charged with a felony shoplifting crime, just as it is with a misdemeanor shoplifting crime, you explore your defenses and find the appropriate way to mitigate your conduct. Don’t merely acquiesce to an SCI felony, a misdemeanor plea or even a Disorderly Conduct. Whether you can secure a non-criminal resolution or not, explore your options and defenses with your criminal defense lawyer or shoplifting attorney in White Plains. Be smart. Read up on the law and procedure. Advocate for yourself. Protect your future career, licensing, or status by ensuring you take the right steps going forward.
To read more about New York theft and larceny crimes relating to misdemeanor shoplifting arrests or felony shoplifting arrests whether they occurred at The Westchester, Galleria Mall, Rockland County’s Palisades Mall or any store big or small in the Hudson Valley or New York City, follow the links here, read through this blog and visit the sites listed below.
Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense firm dedicated to clients accused of, and arrested for larceny and stolen property crimes throughout the New York City region. Both founding criminal defense attorneys and shoplifting lawyers at Crotty Saland PC served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prior to establishing the law firm.