Shoplifting is a criminal act that involves removing goods from a retail location without the permission of the owner and while also failing to provide compensation for those items. This type of action is considered to be theft or larceny and the consequences can be serious. Here is what you need to know about shoplifting, the possible penalties involved if convicted, and what sort of ongoing impact that conviction can have on your life.
How is Shoplifting Classed?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the activity, shoplifting may be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. Article 155 of the New York Criminal Code applies to this type of theft. The least serious charge is known as petit larceny. This means that the offense is considered a Class a misdemeanor and involves the theft of property valued at less than $1,000.00.
Then the value of the stolen property is valued between $1,000.00 and $3,000.00, the offense is considered to be a Class E felony and identified as grand larceny in the fourth degree.
Property valued between $3,000.00 and $5,000.00 is considered grand larceny in the third degree and classed as Class D felony.
Any shoplifting activity that involves the theft of goods valued between $50,000.00 and $1 million results in a Class C felony charge and is considered grand larceny in the second degree.
When more than $1 million is involved, the offense is considered grand larceny in the first degree and is a Class B felony.
In most cases, the value of the shoplifted item is based on the retail price. That is because the loss to the shop owner is measured in terms of the current market price and not whatever the owner paid to a supplier.
Understanding the Penalties
With shoplifting, the legal ramifications become more severe based on the value of the objects stolen. Along with returning the item, the guilty party may face jail time as well as fines.
A Class A misdemeanor is one of the more common examples of shoplifting. A person convicted of petit larceny could be ordered to pay a fine of $1,000.00 and up to a year in jail even after the shoplifted item is recovered.
A Class E felony can result in a fine up to $5,000.00 or double whatever financial gain the convicted party generated from the sale of the shoplifted items. The court will use whichever figure is greater. Along with the fine, the party can expect to receive up to four years of jail time.
Class D felonies can come with up to seven years in jail. The fine for this type of felony is the same as for a Class E felony.
A person convicted of a Class C felony could be sentenced to as long as 15 years in prison. As with the other felonies classed as grand larceny, the fine could be up to $5,000.00 or double the gain that the offender realized from the sale of the stolen goods, whichever is greater.
Conviction of a Class B felony for shoplifting carries a maximum of 25 years of jail time and the same type of fine incurred with other grand larceny shoplifting cases.
Keep in mind that along with the fines and jail time, the court may also order counseling as part of your sentencing. This is especially true if other offenses have occurred and there are some signs that your theft was more than a momentary impulse.
What About Civil Suits?
Keep in mind that while criminal charges may be leveled and the convicted party serves time, shopkeepers retain the ability to pursue civil suits. This means that along with the prison time and the fines ordered by the court in the criminal case, the individual could still have to deal with the outcome of a civil suit.
A civil suit may be filed at the same time as criminal charges are leveled. A more common approach is to wait until the criminal charges are addressed and resolved. Even if the court does not find the accused party guilty of criminal charges, it is still possible for the shopkeeper to seek damages through a civil suit.
What Would Life Be Like After a Conviction for Shoplifting?
Being convicted of shoplifting will have serious consequences for many years to come. The criminal conviction becomes part of the individual’s permanent record. It will be accessible by potential employers, lending institutions, and even institutions of higher learning.
A conviction could disqualify you from certain types of employment opportunities. It could also negatively impact your ability to be admitted into some colleges and universities. Lenders may evaluate the events involved with the conviction and determine that you are not a good credit risk. In the best case scenario, you will find obtaining the funds to purchase a home or a new vehicle difficult. This is true even if your credit rating meets the standards of the lender.
The bottom line is that a charge of shoplifting is nothing to take lightly. If such an allegation is made, it pays to seek legal services as soon as possible. A lawyer who understands larceny charges and how they relate to shoplifting incidents will be in a position to represent the client and ensure that all legal means are utilized to mount a defense.