Shoplifting may seem like a minor crime, but it can have serious repercussions that affect you for years to come. In the state of New York, the legal terms for shoplifting are larceny and theft. What the prosecutor charges you with depends on the value of what you allegedly stole, along with the circumstances surrounding your arrest.
If the value of the stolen goods is $1,000 or less, then the charge is petit larceny, which is a class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for this are one ear in jail and a fine of $1,000, but penalties vary quite a bit depending on the exact value of the stolen goods. When that value is about $100 or less, prosecutors typically offer an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD). You may need to pay a fine or serve a couple days of community service, but if you do that and maintain a clean record for the next six months, your case gets dismissed. This means there won’t be anything on your criminal record.
If the value of the stolen goods is in the $100 to $500 range, an ACD may still be an option, or the prosecutor could offer a plea deal for disorderly conduct. This will be sealed on your record, although there have been cases where this has still shown up on background checks performed by employers. To avoid this, it’s important to consult with a lawyer.
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For situations where the value of the stolen goods was in the $500 to $1,000 range, the prosecutor could push for a petit larceny charge. Keep in mind that if you accept a plea deal for this charge or you are convicted of it, then that will result in a criminal record because it’s a misdemeanor.
When the value of the stolen goods exceeds $1,000, the charge is grand larceny, which is a felony. Between $1,000 and $3,000 is grand larceny in the fourth degree, a class E felony with maximum penalties of four years in prison and a fine up to $5,000 or twice as much as the value of the stolen goods, whichever is greater. Grand larceny in the third degree is a class D felony and occurs if the stolen goods were worth between $3,000 and $5,000. The maximum fine is the same as a class E felony, but the maximum prison sentence is seven years. First and second-degree grand larceny both involve much higher stolen good values.
The prosecutor may also be able to add other charges onto your offense. For example, if you brought tools into the store with you for the purpose of removing security devices, then the prosecutor may charge you with commercial burglary.
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The potential ramifications of a shoplifting case make it crucial that you hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you in court and prepare the best possible defense.
There’s no guarantee that the prosecutor will offer you a plea deal, and even if he does, you need to make sure that you get the best possible deal. While a criminal defense attorney can’t just make your shoplifting charge go away, he gives you a better chance of getting the best deal and reducing your punishment. If the value of the stolen goods is somewhere around $500, an attorney could make the difference between you getting an ACD and you ending up with a criminal record for the rest of your life.
It can’t be overstated how important it is that you do whatever it takes to keep your shoplifting case off your record. Many employers won’t go near employees with shoplifting charges, and an attorney could help you keep your record clean.