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Shoplifting is one of the most common criminal offenses. Many offenders are non-violent, and the arrest is very aggressive. It normally begins with a confrontation. You’ll be brought to another room, where you are searched. The employee may go through your belongings, and you could be tricked into signing various documents – which aren’t legible. You can be tricked into signing documents that force you to take guilt. You could be forced to pay a fine, or a civil demand. This is done by promising to release you, if you pay it. Many people are then turned over the police after being detained for hours – without food, water, or access to a bathroom. While you are detained, you will be interrogated. You’ll be taken to the police station, fingerprinted, and photographed, in addition to being released with a desk appearance ticket. The fingers and photographs, along with the arrest report, are on file with the police and could become public record. Store employees will use a shoplifting arrest as an opportunity to trick you into signing legal documents, and paying unnecessary fines. The police will sugar coat your situation, and make you think they are on your team. Although this could be your first shoplifting case, it can ruin your entire life.
Following a shoplifting arrest, you are issued a desk appearance ticket, which will require you to return to court on the date mentioned on the ticket. The tickets are given to you, in lieu of taking you to the Central Booking station. If you fail to return to court as directed, an arrest warrant can be issued. When you go to court, it’s crucial you have legal representation so your case is resolved easily.
What are the stages of shoplifting criminal cases
The first thing after arrested, is the arraignment. In NY, all criminal cases start when you appear in court with one of our shoplifting lawyers in NYC. For most cases that involve a desk appearance ticket, the arraignment date is on the face of the ticket. The arraignment is the official reading of the rights you have, and the charges you have. At the arraignment, you and your shoplifting lawyer in New York will be informed about the nature of your charges, and what evidence the prosecution has. Your attorney will try to make a move for a dismissal, enter a plea on your behalf, make motions, and/or engage in negotiations. The arraignment is an informational in nature, hearing – which gives you and your attorney an opportunity to learn about the case. It is not a trial, so the judge/prosecutor won’t try to engage in any proceedings in order to determine facts of your case. Generally, the judge will speak about things like negotiations, set bail, adjourn, or dismiss the case. This is a critical part of the case. If you go to an arraignment without an attorney, and plead guilty/admit guilt, you could be convicted immediately. Once convicted, the judge has the power to sentence you to the maximum penalty allowed by law. New York law contains overly harsh penalties, and this can ruin your future. At arraignment, there are three possibilities on what will happen. The case will be dismissed, you will be convicted, or your case will be adjourned. You should only plea guilty after speaking to your NYC shoplifting lawyer.
Post-arraignment: If the case is adjourned, you and your attorney will return to court. Adjournments generally are done for a reason. Your case might be adjourned because you don’t have an attorney – and must return with an attorney, or adjourned for your attorney to file motions, or for your attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor. Special motions can be made for shoplifting cases, which is an important way to fight your case.
After you understand your situation, you might wonder if you should take a deal. Be extremely careful. The prosecutor isn’t required to protect your interests. The prosecutor looks good when he gives you the strongest punishment possible. All deals aren’t created equally. Some deals can lead to a permanent criminal record, or result in deportation. Others can result in employment issues, travel issues, immigration issues, or other issues.
Best NYC Shoplifting Lawyer
10% of employees are accused of stealing from employers. Common examples of employee theft include office supplies, petty cash, products from inventory, products which have been returned to the store, products from shelves, kickbacks, and payoffs from vendors, in addition to money from company accounts. Companies like Walmart lose approximately 3-4 billion a year in employee theft. Employers use a number of techniques to combat this form of theft, including but not limited to: video surveillance, merchandise databases, RFID tags, and security checkpoints at the exits. Any suspected theft can lead to arrest, charges, and more.
Civil Demands After a Shoplifting Arrest
Civil demands are a threat of a civil lawsuit by lawyers who represent a retail store. For example, if you stole in Macy’s and were arrested, then the store can sue you for monetary damages in addition to reporting it to the police. Stores are very aggressive, and use civil demands to punish shoplifters and in order to make money. Civil demands can be made immediately after an arrest, and before a police arrive – before anyone tells you what you’re being accused of doing, and without informing you of your rights. Stores will do this to shock you into giving compensation. Often, we hear of situations where a shoplifting individual has his/her credit card taken by store security guards, who then charge the shoplifter’s credit cards for money without the card owner’s permission, and before guilt or innocence has been determined. Civil demand follows New York General Obligation Law Section 11-105, which is why they can do it without getting in trouble.
The Types of Shoplifting our NYC Shoplifting Attorneys Can Help With
There are many types of shoplifting charges under NY penal code. This includes petit larceny, criminal possession of property, and grand larceny. Petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen party are considered misdemeanors. Grand larceny in shoplifting cases are treated as 4th degree felonies, which are more serious felony charges – depending on the value of the goods that are stolen. Various types of shoplifting can result in criminal charges. This includes taking items and walking out of a retail store, taking items and concealing it, or theft using a booster bag, tag switching, group shoplifting, and also shoplifting through “sweethearting.” One of the most popular methods of shoplifting is taking items and then making a quick exit. Often, stores try to place expensive merchandise as far from the exit as possible. Concealing items in shopping bags, backpacks, pockets, or other places, is a very popular form of shoplifting. The act of shoplifting with booster bags, involves using bags which are made with material which disrupts communication between magnetic, microwave, or RFID tags and their readers. The bags also often conceal stolen merchandise, and are made from the retailer’s own shopping bags.
Tag switching, is another popular method of shoplifting, which involves removing the price tag on an item and replacing it with a cheaper tag from a less expensive item. It can also involve placing an inexpensive tag on an item which has no tag at all. Group shoplifting typically involves acts where individuals act together to steal goods. Sweethearting refers to when a store casher/employee fails to scan items, for a friend or family member. The employee pretends to scan items, but covers the barcode, or will move/stack the items in a way to avoid scanning. Many factors can lead to a false arrest for shoplifting, something our NYC shoplifting lawyer understands intimately. If you are facing shoplifting charges on a desk appearance ticket, our shoplifting attorneys in NY can help you in court. Our NYC shoplifting lawyer has experience handling almost every type of shoplifting case.
Can shoplifting charges be sealed by an NYC shoplifting attorney?
Shoplifting or petty theft is essentially the removal of something from a store without paying for it. However, removing or altering a price tag, removing security tags, or removing the packaging of an item and placing it among other things, is also considered shoplifting. Shoplifting is dealt with differently in different states.
In some states, shoplifting is charged as theft or larceny. However, in others, shoplifting is considered separately and depends on the value of the merchandise. If you stole less than $100 worth of items in Massachusetts, for example, and it is your first offense, you may only have to pay a fine. However, if you took an expensive item, like a computer, you may have more severe penalties to face. In addition to criminal charges, a person might also face civil liabilities.
Most employers, especially in retail settings, now conduct background checks on future employees. If you have a shoplifting charge on your record, you might want to consider expungement or sealing of your record. Having your record sealed or expunged means that you can honestly answer “no” to any question that asks if you have been convicted of a crime (assuming the sealed record is your only conviction). It also prevents future employers from seeing your arrest or conviction record – this is something our NYC shoplifting lawyer can help you achieve.
Sealing of records or expungement is not available in every jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have specific requirements, such as age requirements, the amount of time that has passed since your conviction, severity and nature of the event, and whether or not you’ve been arrested for anything else since. If your state allows you to file for an expungement, you will need to file a motion with the court. Sometimes, you need to submit supporting documents as well. Some states make it easy and others make it more difficult. If you find that you are having trouble locating the correct forms online or can’t find other information you need, consult an NYC shoplifting lawyer / criminal attorney who can help you file if you are eligible.
Remember that expungement doesn’t mean the record of your conviction is completely erased. The prosecutor’s office will still have a record of your arrest and conviction and law enforcement and your FBI file will still have the information on it. Make sure you read the “fine print” on your expungement papers once you receive them about just who, in your state, can still access the information about your charges. If you are confused about who can see your records, ask your attorney to explain it to you.
Do I need an NYC Shoplifting lawyer with me in court?
Yes. Arrest for shoplifting signals means there is the start of a criminal prosecution, and you will need a criminal attorney.
Shoplifting Immigration Consequences
If you’re an immigrant charged with shoplifting, the consequences can be serious. Immigration laws are clear: a criminal conviction can lead to a change in your status, or lead to deportation. Criminal charges you face can be a critical issue, when it comes to your immigration status. Shoplifting is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which means shoplifting is a vile act. These types of crimes are listed under immigration law, as being those which restrict an immigrant from being admissible to the country. If you are convicted of shoplifting, you could be removed from the US by order of the Attorney General. Even one conviction of shoplifting can lead to deportation if it happens within 5 years of your admission to the USA. As a result, it’s helpful to speak to our NYC shoplifting lawyer.
Out of State/Country Shoplifting Legal Help
It can take many court appearances before your case is completed. Your first court appearance is an arraignment, where the court and prosecutor become acquainted with your attorney and then schedule the follow up litigation. The first court appearance is just the arraignment. You may need to make several trips back to court, in order to complete the case. If you live outside NYC, traveling to court can be a problem for you in terms of time and money. If you live in another country, it can be a huge problem. Our NYC shoplifting lawyer can help.
Procuring Defense Representation From NY Shoplifting Lawyers
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
With misdemeanor shoplifting offenses, a criminal defense lawyer could work with the district attorney’s office to set up an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) agreement.
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.
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