Labeling shoplifting as a minor or harmless crime cannot be described as anything other than a bad idea. People lulled into thinking shoplifting does not come with serious repercussions are completely mistaken. In the state of New York, prosecutors do not overlook criminal instances of shoplifting. Those whose property was stolen in a shoplifting incident likely press charges in order to deter future incidents of theft.
Anyone who believes the eventual penalty for shoplifting won’t be overwhelming or the consequences won’t be severe is sorely mistaken. A simple review of the New York state penal code reveals the punishment for a shoplifting conviction can be severe depending upon how the charges are tried in court.
Shoplifting Equals Larceny and Theft
In New York, shoplifting is defined as either larceny or theft and, based on the circumstances of the incident, the accused might also be charged with burglary.
Entering a store and taking property belonging to someone else — i.e. stealing the property — with the intent of keeping the property while depriving the owner of the property may lead to one of two charges: petit larceny or larceny.
Petit Larceny entails the theft of items valued at $1,000 or less and is a class A misdemeanor.
Grand larceny in the fourth degree entails the theft of items valued between $1,000 and $3,000 and is a class E felony. As the value of the shoplifted item or items increases, so does the class of felony. The higher the class of felony, the greater the potential penalty.
The Penalties Involved
If anything can effectively capture the attention of someone not understanding the severity of shoplifting charges, it would be the potential penalties associated with a conviction.
A class A misdemeanor in New York brings forth the potential for one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. With a class E felony, the penalty increases dramatically. Specifically, the possible jail time associated with this level of a felony may reach upwards of four years. The fines are also steep as well. With a levied fine, the amount shall not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the value of the items stolen. Regardless, the fine amount is significant.
Hiring the best criminal defense representation is critical when faced with charges. The defense attorney could argue for a lowered penalty upon a conviction. Being convicted, however, brings forth a lot of trouble for the defendant due to the residual impact of a criminal record.
The Stigma of a Conviction
Unless expunged, criminal records are forever. The presence of a criminal conviction can haunt a person for years and years. A person may undergo a background check numerous times in life when looking to rent an apartment, seeking a job, or even applying for insurance. The discovering of a criminal conviction, even one from many years prior, can cause troubles.
For these reasons and more retaining the best criminal defense attorney must become a very high priority. An effective defense might be the only means of preventing a one-time offense from creating a lifetime of problems.
Defending Shoplifting Charges
A criminal defense attorney could explore a number of different defenses to shoplifting charges. Instances of false accusations and/or false arrest or lack of evidence might not hold up very well when experienced counsel brings up the dubious nature of the charges. A legitimate attempt to get the charges withdrawn or dismissed may be successful with the right argument and defense strategy.
Other existing options for the defense exist as well. A skilled criminal defense attorney would know the proper way to explore these options including choosing the best path to possibly attain a dismissal of charges.
The Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal Option
When the defendant is looking at a highly-likely criminal conviction, setting up this type of agreement may be extremely beneficial. Essentially, the case would be dismissed after six months provided the defendant did not find him or herself in trouble with the law during that period.
The major benefit of this type of plea arrangement is a criminal record is completely wiped out as soon as the dismissal occurs. Once this happens, the aforementioned stigma associated with a criminal record is eliminated as well.
An Experienced Defense
Experienced criminal defense lawyers who previously handled cases for those charged with shoplifting might be the best choice for those facing charges. An attorney with solid experience in such cases should also present a track record for successful defenses.
Contacting a skilled, experienced attorney must be done without delay. An attorney can help a client on all levels of the proceedings and keep him/her on the right path to a reliable defense strategy.