Petit Larceny, Shoplifting and Other Thefts
As New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors since 2000, each partner at Saland Law has handled hundreds of shoplifting cases from arrest through resolution. In New York City, whether the police issued you a Desk Appearance Ticket or not, the charges are generally the same. From Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens to the Bronx, if you are arrested or given a Desk Appearance Ticket, the charges you will likely face include the misdemeanors or felonies of:
- Petit Larceny - NY Penal Law 155.25
- Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree – NY Penal Law 165.40
- Felony Shoplifting in Excess of $1,000
- Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree – NY Penal Law 155.30
- Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree – NY Penal Law 165.45
Petit Larceny (NY PL 155.25) and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree (NY PL 165.40) are both “A” misdemeanors punishable by up to on year in jail. They can be generally viewed as the stealing of property and possession of stolen property regardless of how insignificant the value is. Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree are both “E” felonies punishable by up to four years in prison. These crimes require that the value of the property exceed $1,000.
Keep in mind that although your particular Desk Appearance Ticket may only contain one of these crimes, prosecutors have the authority and ability to add other crimes in the event they can be established from the facts of your case. Regardless of the offense charged, consult with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney to ensure you fully understand the arrest and Desk Appearance Ticket process as well as the direct and collateral implications of a criminal conviction or violation.What to Expect in Court
When arrested for shoplifting in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens, the process, as highlighted above, is generally the same. Once you get to court, your criminal lawyer will file a notice indicating he or she is your attorney. Often times, the courtroom is full. Unfortunately, you will be required to stand before these people and in front of the judge. Fortunately, your attorney, not you, will enter a plea of “not guilty” after you are formally charged. Unless the case is disposed of on that day, you will be given a date to come back to court for either a disposition, further legal paperwork, a judge to rule on legal motions your attorney may file or for a trial date. While the anticipation and waiting to go before the court may seem long, once you are in front of the judge your case will move quickly. It is important to have vetted and discussed your case with your legal counsel and determined the course of action prior to your court date. Once you go before the judge the case will move quickly.Plea Deals & Offers – First Time Offenders
Each County in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx) hase their own plea guidelines. Similarly, Westchester and Rockland Counties have these guidelines as well. Therefore, the ramification of stealing $200 worth of merchandise from a Manhattan store may be different than in White Plains, Queens or Brooklyn.
Generally speaking, however, if the allegations are that the value of the property is $100 or less, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) is a likely offer. If the prosecution moves for this type of deal, then the case would be dismissed and sealed after six months.
Once you surpass this amount, the plea offers become less forgiving, even if not criminal in nature. One such offer is a Disorderly Conduct which is a violation and not a crime. Although a Disorderly Conduct technically seals, there have been lawsuits after arrests from years earlier show up on a person’s background check. It is critical to keep collateral consequences in mind prior to pleading to any offense.
Even more concerning, if the value starts to close in on or exceeds the $400 to $500 amount or greater, prosecutors may “offer” a misdemeanor at your arraignment. A plea to such a “deal” would give you a criminal record. Although not a formal guide, Saland Law has drafted a general outline of potential offers for Manhattan (New York County) shoplifting arrests for first time offenders.Potential Defenses to a New York Shoplifting Arrest / Desk Appearance Ticket
There is no “cookie cutter” defense to a shoplifting case. It may be that there is a legal or factual defense. Alternatively, your best option may be to mitigate your conduct in an attempt to get an ACD. Saland Law has represented teachers, lawyers, doctors and MBA graduates employed in finance. These individuals have legitimate concerns that even a Disorderly Conduct, a violation and not a crime, can show up on a background check or impact their certifications. It is important to stress that prior to going to court you should discuss with your New York criminal lawyer the facts of your case and his or her thoughts on how to handle the criminal case as well as any other collateral or career issues.Do You Need to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney for a Shoplifting Arrest
This is a question only you can answer. Assuming you qualify, there are some tremendous criminal defense attorneys working for Legal Aid and other organizations. However, there are some drawbacks including the fact that you will not be meeting this attorney until you see him in court just prior to seeing the judge. Practically speaking, however, potential defenses, witnesses, facts, etc., may not be investigated in the few minutes you have with this lawyer. Moreover, some of these attorneys may have dozens of other cases on that day. Due to the volume they may not have the ability to walk you through the process, explain potential offers, or corroborate your defense. Again, the choice is yours to make. Keep in mind that some defenses may need implementation at the time you first see the judge. Therefore, it may be more difficult to do so if and when you decide or are required to hire a criminal lawyerAdditional Information on New York Shoplifting Arrests and Laws
For further information on New York shoplifting arrests, Desk Appearance Tickets and related criminal laws, please review the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog. There you can find information on criminal statutes, legal decisions and newsworthy cases. The following are some relevant entries relating to shoplifting:
- State Action Hearings: Challenging Initial Stop / Search By Store Security
- Can You be Arrested for Shoplifting in NY While Still in the Store?
- New York Shoplifting & “Petty Theft” Primer
- The “Wholly Inconsistent” Standard in NY Shoplifting Law
- Concealment, Your Actions and the “Wholly Inconsistent” Standard II
- Fraud & Theft Convictions: FINRA, Form U4 & FDIC Consequences
- Shoplifting Arrests at NYC Whole Foods
- NY Shoplifting Arrests at Century 21 Department Stores
Saland Law is a New York criminal defense firm representing clients in New York City and the surrounding area. Prior to starting the firm, both partners served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Call us at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today to discuss your case and possible defenses.