If you or a loved one has been accused of shoplifting in New York City, it is essential to understand the laws and potential consequences of a conviction. Shoplifting, also known as “larceny” or simply “theft,” is a crime that can have severe repercussions on your life, career, and future opportunities. As a seasoned criminal defense attorney, I am here to help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and fight for your rights.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is defined as the wrongful taking, obtaining, or withholding of another person’s or entity’s property with the intent to deprive them of it. In New York, you can be charged with shoplifting even if you haven’t left the store with a stolen item. Concealing an item on your person can lead to arrest, charges, and a shoplifting conviction. It is important to note that returning the item does not absolve you of the charges.
Penalties for Shoplifting in New York
The penalties for shoplifting in New York depend on the value of the items allegedly stolen:
- Petit Larceny (Class A Misdemeanor): Property valued at $1,000 or less. Punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (Class E Felony): Property valued between $1,000 and $3,000. Punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000 or double the offender’s gain.
- Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Class D Felony): Property valued between $3,000 and $50,000. Punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000 or double the offender’s gain.
- Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (Class C Felony): Property valued between $50,000 and $1 million. Punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000 or double the offender’s gain.
- Grand Larceny in the First Degree (Class B Felony): Property valued at greater than $1 million. Punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000 or double the offender’s gain.
In addition to criminal charges, merchants in New York are allowed to bring civil lawsuits to recover damages. Merchants can sue an adult (and emancipated minors) for the retail value of merchandise up to $1,500 if the property is not recovered in a re-saleable condition. Merchants may also be awarded a penalty equal to $75 or five times the worth of the products, whichever is greater, with a penalty surcharge limited to $500.
What to Expect After an Arrest for Shoplifting in NYC
If you find yourself arrested for petit Larceny in New York City, it is common for the police to issue you a DAT (desk appearance ticket). This ticket instructs you to appear for your arraignment on a specified date in court. However, if you are arrested for felony grand larceny, you may be detained at Central Booking for approximately 24 hours until you see a judge who will decide on bail. In most shoplifting cases in New York City, even those involving felonies, arraignment judges typically do not set bail and release defendants on their own recognizance (ROR).
Understanding Your Options
Your NYC shoplifting case can be resolved in one of three ways. You can choose to go to trial and negotiate a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, or in some instances; the case may be dismissed if the DA does not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial. The decision to take your shoplifting case to trial should be made after carefully considering all the pros and cons and a realistic assessment of the risk of losing versus the proposed offer. The District Attorney’s Office will usually make an offer of disposition at the arraignment or at a later time.
In most first-time misdemeanor shoplifting cases (excluding Staten Island), the DA will typically offer to dispose of the case by way of a plea to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, which is a violation and not a crime. If you agree to acknowledge wrongdoing in court and complete a few days of community service, the case will be dismissed, and your arrest record will be sealed in one year. While this resolution is acceptable to many clients, it can be problematic for others, especially those employed in the financial industry or the education sector, as well as non-citizens planning to apply for visa upgrades. While a violation is not a deportable crime, it must be disclosed to the immigration service, and an immigration officer may, at their discretion, deny your request for a visa upgrade or extension.
To avoid these potential complications, resolving your shoplifting case in NYC with an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal) is often preferable. The advantage of an ACD is that you do not have to acknowledge any wrongdoing, and the arrest record will be sealed in only six months. Essentially, it is a minor reprimand and carries virtually no legal consequences. However, the DA rarely offers an ACD at the arraignment, and in most boroughs, obtaining one requires significant effort.
Should I Hire A Lawyer For My Shoplifting Case in NYC?
As an experienced criminal defense attorney, I understand that life is complex and mistakes can happen. I am here to advocate for you whether you have been accused of shoplifting due to a simple oversight or a diagnosed compulsion. I will work tirelessly to have your case dismissed, mitigated, or pled to a minor offense.
Having a strong advocate on your side is crucial to help guide you through the legal system. Retaining experienced legal counsel can make the difference between a life-changing arrest and walking away with your record and dignity intact.
If you have been charged with shoplifting in New York, don’t hesitate to contact me for a free, confidential consultation. I am ready to help you go on living life positively, happily, and free from the burdens of a criminal conviction.