Shoplifting Arrests at Century 21 Department Stores

Century 21 department stores are splashed throughout the New York City area. From Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens to New Jersey, Century 21 has flagship locations in lower Manhattan, Lincoln Square, City Point and Rego Park. Wall Streeters, stay at home moms, foreign nationals visiting New York City, teachers, doctors, college students and people from every walk of life routinely shop in this mega chain department store looking for a good buy. Unfortunately, with people shopping and buying jeans, sweaters, ties, shoes and all different clothes and garments, there are many customers who shoplift or are accused of shoplifting whether or not they committed any crime at all. True or not, a shoplifting arrest at Century 21 will set off a chain of events that can be as nightmarish and frightening as it can be career destroying and criminal record creating. At bottom, whether you are charged with or accused of shoplifting as a misdemeanor Petit Larceny or a felony Grand Larceny, know that Century 21 will pursue your case and the respective District Attorney’s Office spearheading your arrest will enforce the law.

Century 21 Shoplifting Arrests: Security Personnel and the Pre-Arrest Process

Whether it’s a tap on the shoulder or a security guard grabs your arm, the initial rush of adrenaline is something you will likely never forget. Sadly, this is where or how the nightmare begins. Hauled off to a back room by one or two security guards, the presumption is that you are guilty. In fact, it is common for these officers to be accusatory and rude. Hungry? They don’t care. Want to make a phone call? They will stop you. Offer to pay? Too late. Think a manager will rectify the situation because you have made countless purchases before? Think again.

While you may not be told by staff (or lied to) that the police have been called as you sit and wait for processing, Century 21 staff will photograph you, have you sign paperwork or at least advise you not to return or you will be arrested for Trespass, and either demand or explain that you must pay a fine up to $500. All of this and you have yet to face an actual criminal charge or arrest by the NYPD. Are Century 21 security guards acting out of line, overly aggressive and inexperienced? Very likely the answer to this is “yes,” but know that these men and women are not the police, prosecutors or judges and they will move full steam ahead.

Century 21 Shoplifting Arrests: From Misdemeanor to Felony

First off, just because you never left the store does not mean you cannot be arrested. There is obviously a difference between arrest and conviction, but New York State criminal law allows for an arrest while still in the store. That said, there are factors that prosecutors will take into consideration whether you are still in the store or arrested just outside. Did you switch tags? Did you purchase some items and not others? Where you wearing clothes out? Did you resist? How many different garments did you attempt to take and where were they hidden or placed? Simply, is this a big misunderstanding or were you caught red handed?

The biggest and most relevant factor in a shoplifting arrest at Century 21 is the value of the property you are accused of stealing. Assuming in its totality the value is $1,000.00 or less, then your charges and crimes will likely be Petit Larceny, PL 155.25, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, PL 165.40. Both of these crimes are class “A” misdemeanors. If the property is greater than $1,000.00, but no more than $3,000.00, then the crimes you may face are Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, PL 155.30, and Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, PL 165.45. These offenses are class “E” felonies and are significantly worse. At the top end of the shoplifting “food chain” are the crimes involving thefts greater than $3,000.00 but no more than $50,000. These class “D” felonies are Third Degree Grand Larceny, PL 155.35, and Third Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, PL 165.50. “E” felonies are punishable by as much as four years in prison while “D” felonies carry a sentence of up to seven years.

Century 21 Shoplifting Arrests: Desk Appearance Tickets

Assuming your arrest for shoplifting is not a felony offense where you will be booked and held in Central Booking awaiting arraignment, the NYPD may issue you a Desk Appearance Ticket, aka, a DAT. In these latter arrests you will likely be fingerprinted and wait in the local precinct for a few hours before being released with a date to return to court. DO NOT MISS YOUR COURT DATE. If you miss your court date there will be a warrant for your arrest.

Century 21 Shoplifting Arrests: Issues Outside Criminal Court

A shoplifting arrest, whether or not is a misdemeanor with a DAT or a felony arrest processed through Central Booking, is serious. The response to an arrest of any kind is not to ignore the allegation because you are guilty, innocent or somewhere in between. It is critical to take the right steps to address issues both in the court and those you will face collaterally as a result.

Some examples of collateral concerns include arrests where you are professionally licensed or regulated through FINRA or FDIC. You are in the midst of a job hunt or application. You work as a teacher or other public employee for the City or State of New York. Equally if not more concerning, individuals who are not citizens and have visas allowing them to visit, work or attend school in the United States may have some very thorny issues to contend with. For example, if you are visiting here on holiday or vacation, how will you avoid a warrant if you do not come back the New York for your court appearance? While there is not always a simple answer the litany of questions you will have, retaining experienced counsel who knows the process and procedures of shoplifting arrests in New York is central to minimizing your long term exposure.

Irrespective of whether you were arrested earlier today or last month, do not waste any more time put your case on the proper trajectory to minimize your exposure and consequences. Let experience, knowledge and advocacy be your strongest and best defense. The alternative is simply not acceptable.

Call our criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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