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Brooklyn Shoplifting Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | January 22, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 12:01 pm


Brooklyn Shoplifting Lawyers: Your Guide to Shoplifting Charges in Brooklyn

If you or a loved one have been charged with shoplifting in Brooklyn, you’re probably feeling scared and overwhelmed. Shoplifting charges can lead to fines, probation, and even jail time in some cases. But with the right legal help, many people charged with shoplifting are able to get charges reduced or even dismissed.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about shoplifting charges in Brooklyn. We’ll explain the common defenses against shoplifting, what to expect at your arraignment, potential penalties, and how an experienced Brooklyn shoplifting lawyer can help you get the best possible outcome.

Common Shoplifting Defenses in Brooklyn

If you’ve been accused of shoplifting, the first thing you’ll want to do is speak with a criminal defense lawyer about potential defenses. Some of the most common shoplifting defenses in Brooklyn include:

  • You didn’t intend to steal – For a shoplifting conviction, prosecutors must be able to prove you intended to steal the merchandise. If you simply forgot an item was in your bag or pocket, that could undermine the intent element.
  • False accusations – Store employees do make mistakes. Weak evidence like poor security footage can be used to show it’s possible you were falsely accused.
  • Mental illness – Conditions like kleptomania can sometimes be used to explain shoplifting behavior and lead to reduced charges.
  • Wrongful detention – If a store employee detained you without proper evidence, any statements or items found after that could be suppressed.

An experienced Brooklyn shoplifting attorney will evaluate the details of your case and determine if any of these defenses could get your charges dismissed or reduced. Even if none seem to apply, skilled lawyers know how to effectively negotiate with prosecutors for better outcomes.

What to Expect at Your Arraignment

Shortly after being arrested for shoplifting in Brooklyn, you’ll be required to appear for an arraignment hearing at the local criminal courthouse. This is where the judge will read the formal charges against you and you’ll enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.

In most shoplifting cases, your attorney will advise you to enter a plea of “not guilty” so they can get to work fighting the charges. The judge will also decide on bail conditions at the arraignment. For minor shoplifting incidents, you’ll usually be released on your own recognizance until the next court date.

It’s important to have a lawyer with you at arraignment to advocate for the best possible bail conditions. Brooklyn judges understand that people accused of shoplifting come from all walks of life and will often be reasonable in setting bail.

Potential Penalties for Shoplifting in Brooklyn

New York has progressive penalties for shoplifting that increase with each subsequent offense. The potential fines and jail time you face will depend on the value of the merchandise allegedly stolen and your prior record. Common penalties include:

  • Petit larceny (under $1,000): Up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 fine
  • Grand larceny in the 4th degree ($1,000 to $3,000): Up to 1.5 years in jail and up to $5,000 fine
  • Grand larceny in the 3rd degree (over $3,000): Up to 7 years in jail and up to $5,000 fine

However, many first-time and low-level shoplifting offenders can avoid jail time through plea deals for reduced charges like trespassing or disorderly conduct. Your lawyer’s job is to negotiate for the lightest penalties possible.

Finding the Best Shoplifting Lawyer in Brooklyn

The outcome of a shoplifting case often hinges on the quality of legal representation. When searching for a shoplifting lawyer, there’s a few important things to look for:

  • Experience handling shoplifting cases – You want a lawyer who is intimately familiar with Brooklyn courts and prosecutors when it comes to shoplifting.
  • Negotiation skills – The ability to negotiate plea deals and sentencing alternatives is key.
  • Trial experience – If your case does go to trial, your lawyer should have litigation experience and success trying shoplifting cases before Brooklyn juries.
  • Responsiveness – Your lawyer should be available to answer your calls and questions throughout the legal process.

Don’t just go with the first lawyer you find online. Vet them thoroughly and feel confident they have the skills to get your charges reduced or dismissed. For most people, the expense of an experienced lawyer is well worth it compared to the alternative of a permanent criminal record.

The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer

Trying to navigate the criminal justice system alone without legal representation is extremely unwise. An experienced Brooklyn shoplifting lawyer will protect your rights and guide you through the entire process, including:

  • Advising you on whether to accept a plea bargain or take your case to trial
  • Gathering evidence and witness statements to challenge the prosecution’s accusations
  • Negotiating with the district attorney for reduced charges or dismissal
  • Presenting persuasive defenses and arguments in court
  • Helping you avoid the immigration consequences of a conviction if you are not a U.S. citizen

In many cases, the lawyer is able to get shoplifting charges dismissed entirely or reduced to minor offenses that carry no criminal record. This saves their clients from devastating personal and professional consequences.

Most people charged with shoplifting are worried about being able to afford a lawyer. Criminal defense attorneys understand this challenge. Many offer flexible payment plans so you can pay over time. They also work with clients to obtain funding for legal fees from sources like:

  • Borrowing from friends or family
  • Personal loans
  • Credit cards
  • 401K or retirement account loans
  • Advance from employer
  • Crowdfunding

Going into debt to pay legal fees is nerve-wracking but well worth it compared to a criminal conviction that could haunt you for life. For qualifying clients, some lawyers also accept payment through legal finance companies or offer pro bono services.

If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting in Brooklyn, here’s a basic overview of what you can expect to happen next:

  1. Arrest: Police detain you and you’re transported to the local precinct for booking. You’ll be fingerprinted, photographed and held until arraignment.
  2. Arraignment: First court appearance where charges are read and bail/release conditions are set. This usually happens within 24 hours of arrest.
  3. Hiring a Lawyer: Retain defense counsel as soon as possible to start building your case.
  4. Investigation: Your lawyer will interview witnesses, obtain video evidence, and craft defense arguments.
  5. Plea Bargaining: Your lawyer will negotiate with the DA’s office for reduced charges or dismissal.
  6. Pre-Trial Hearings: The judge may hold hearings to decide on admissibility of evidence, testimony, etc.
  7. Trial: If no plea deal is reached, your case will go before a judge or jury for trial.
  8. Sentencing: If found guilty, the judge will impose penalties like fines, probation, community service, etc.

Having an attorney to guide you through every step is critical. The legal process is complex and confusing without knowledgeable legal counsel.

Will a Shoplifting Conviction Impact My Job or Schooling?

One of the biggest worries people have when facing shoplifting charges is how it could impact their education, career, and future ambitions. Unfortunately, many schools and employers do background checks that would reveal even minor criminal convictions.

Some potential effects of a shoplifting conviction can include:

  • Loss of job or denial of employment
  • Suspension or expulsion from college
  • Loss of professional licenses and certifications
  • Ineligibility for public housing and government assistance
  • Inability to obtain student loans and financing
  • Rejection from volunteer organizations

That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney who can negotiate a dismissal or reduction of charges that avoids a permanent criminal record. Your entire future is on the line.

I Was Falsely Accused of Shoplifting. Now What?

Getting wrongly accused of shoplifting can be an extremely frustrating and upsetting experience. Here’s some tips if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Remain calm and don’t resist store security or police. Anything you say can be used against you.
  • Politely insist you are innocent but avoid arguing or admitting to anything.
  • Ask if you are free to leave or if you are being detained. Leave if allowed.
  • Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident.
  • Take photos of the store location where it occurred to help your lawyer later.
  • Consult a criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights.

With an experienced lawyer on your side, many people are able to get false shoplifting charges dismissed before the case ever makes it to court. Your attorney can also file a civil suit against the store for false arrest, defamation, and other claims.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I represent myself in court on shoplifting charges?

It is always advisable to retain legal counsel rather than representing yourself. Shoplifting cases require experience with criminal law, procedure and negotiation skills that only lawyers possess. Going to court alone puts you at a huge disadvantage.

What should I do if I’m detained by store security for shoplifting?

Be polite and cooperative but insist you are innocent and say you will not answer questions without a lawyer. Never admit guilt or sign any statements. Ask if you are free to leave. Get witness contact information.

Can shoplifting charges be expunged from my record?

Many states including New York allow for shoplifting convictions to be sealed or expunged after a period of time, usually 1-5 years. An attorney can advise you on the expungement process and file the petition to clear your record.

Can I go to jail for shoplifting in Brooklyn?

Jail time is possible but unlikely for first-time offenders accused of minor shoplifting. Repeat offenders accused of stealing higher value merchandise face a greater risk of incarceration. An attorney can help minimize this risk.

Should I take a shoplifting case to trial?

In most cases it is advisable to work towards a plea bargain rather than go to trial. Trials are time-consuming, expensive and risky. But your lawyer may recommend trial if there are good defenses and chance of acquittal.

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