While petit larceny is a less serious crime than grand larceny, it is still a crime and punishable by law. Shoplifting is classified as petit larceny if the value of the stolen goods is less than $1,000. Shoplifting is a major problem for most retail stores and for consumers as well. The cost of goods lost to shoplifters gets shifted to the consumer through higher prices. New York Penal Code 155.25 addresses the problem of petit larceny. It is important to understand what the penal code says and what the potential consequences are to anyone who is charged with a violation of petit larceny.
Penal Code 155.25 Explained
Basically, a person is guilty of petit larceny when he steals property with a value under $1,000. This is a class “A” misdemeanor and could potentially carry a sentence of up to 1 year in jail. The value of the property will determine how severe the consequences are. However, even if there is no jail time involved, a person convicted of petit larceny could have a record that would follow them throughout their life and make finding a job more difficult.
In addition to the criminal charges, there could be potential civil penalties as well. In New York a victim can sue for up to five times the value of the items that were stolen. Retailers take shoplifting very seriously and have taken extraordinary measures to try to prevent it. When someone is caught shoplifting, most retailers have a strict prosecution policy regardless of the the amount involved.
Examples of Petit Larceny
There are different ways that people have tried to shoplift. One way is simply hiding merchandise that is not paid for and taking it out of the store. Another example is by switching a lower price tag onto a higher priced item. Another technique is to simply remove the sensor stores use to try to deter shoplifters. Some shoplifters are able to work with the employees of the store to charge them less than the actual price. Finally, employees themselves can be shoplifters by taking merchandise “out the back door” or ringing up their own sales in a way that benefits them.
Potential Defenses Against a Charge of Petit Larceny
Retailers have a wide range of tools at their disposal to catch shoplifters including cameras and security guards. However, there are times when it appears that someone shoplifted when they, in fact, did not. Perhaps the person they were with shoplifted and the retailer wrongly assumed you assisted. Perhaps it appears that you slipped something into your pocket or purse when you were just reaching for a phone or shopping list. Perhaps it looks like you were about to leave the store with unpaid merchandise when you were not.
You should never admit to a crime you did not commit or sign any confession if you are innocent. If police arrive and you are arrested, contact a good defense attorney immediately before you talk to the police. An experienced defense attorney knows all the tricks that law enforcement and security guards try to use to coerce a confession. Even a misdemeanor charge can stain your record and affect your life in negative ways.
While a petit larceny charge may not carry the same consequences as the more serious grand larceny charge, there are still negative repercussions. If you are charged with petit larceny in the New York area, it is important to contact an experienced New York criminal attorney to defend you and protect your legal rights.