New York Shoplifting Defense Attorney
Shoplifting generally refers to the theft of items from a store. Thousands of shoplifting cases are brought in New York every year against defendants of all ages and backgrounds. Often, a defendant can afford the items being stolen and simply had a fleeting loss of inhibition and good judgment, or the person may be falsely accused. An arrest for shoplifting does not need to stain your permanent record or derail your life. Shoplifting charges do not necessarily mean that your child or young adult is starting a life of crime. With the right legal representation, shoplifting charges can be reduced or even dropped, or alternative forms of punishment rather than jail time can be sought.
However, without proper legal defense, shoplifting can be attached to much more serious charges which can involve the imposition of draconian punishments and long-term consequences. Shoplifting is a Class A Misdemeanor and may even constitute a crime of “moral turpitude.” If an overzealous prosecutor is left unchecked, a shoplifting defendant can face serious penalties and even jail time. From their office in Goshen, the passionate and effective New York criminal defense attorneys at Dupée & Monroe, P.C., help people throughout the Hudson Valley and Orange County who have been charged with shoplifting avoid the most serious charges and consequences.
Consequences of Shoplifting
Shoplifting is generally charged as petit larceny, a Class A misdemeanor codified in New York Penal Law § 155.25. Petit larceny is generally the theft of property with a value of $1,000 or less, which is usually the case for shoplifting. The crime is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to a year in jail, and probation.
Additionally, you could face civil penalties if the store from whom you stole files a lawsuit. The store may sue for the value of the items stolen plus monetary penalties and attorney fees. Moreover, a shoplifting conviction can have adverse effects on immigration status.
Defending Against Shoplifting Charges
There are a variety of defenses to a charge of shoplifting. The defense may contest the statements of witnesses, such as security guards, and argue that they misinterpreted the actions of the defendant or were simply wrong as to what they saw. While the crime of shoplifting can be “completed” without leaving the store, the prosecutor must still demonstrate that the defendant intended to steal the item without paying. The defense may be able to contend that the defendant did intend to pay for the item and, for example, had just placed it in their pocket because they were carrying other items. The defense may also call into question the validity of video surveillance, if any was used.
For youthful, first-time, or other non-violent offenders who commit petty crimes like shoplifting, judges and prosecutors may be open to alternative forms of punishment and resolution other than a criminal conviction. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate an “Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal” (ACD). ACD is much like a “diversion.” You will not be convicted, but your case will not be immediately dismissed. Instead, you will be on a sort of probation; you may face noncriminal penalties such as fines and community service and, as long as you stay out of trouble for a certain period, the charges will be essentially dismissed. You will not have a conviction on your record.
Cleaning Your Criminal Record
A conviction for shoplifting can have a serious impact on a defendant’s future well after all fines have been paid, community service performed, and jail time served. Misdemeanor convictions can have ancillary consequences for years, including applications for employment, applications for school, eligibility for living arrangements, and enhanced criminal liability for future offenses.
New York no longer offers a process to “expunge” old convictions from your record entirely. But, under certain circumstances, you may be able to have your criminal conviction for shoplifting “sealed,” meaning that it will not be accessible publicly through a criminal records search. Your conviction would not, for example, show up if a prospective employer conducts a general criminal records search. Crimes committed by youthful offenders, or for misdemeanors, are automatically sealed. Additionally, if you have no more than two misdemeanor convictions or no more than one felony and one misdemeanor conviction each and you have been crime-free for ten years, you may have your criminal convictions sealed.
Get Help After a Shoplifting Arrest in New York
The lawyers at Dupée & Monroe have decades of experience helping people like you build the strongest defense possible against shoplifting charges. If you or a loved one has been arrested for shoplifting or other theft-related offenses in Goshen, Orange County or anywhere in the Hudson Valley region, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C., for immediate assistance from seasoned criminal defense attorneys.