As much as any New York criminal lawyer would like to be able to guarantee you a particular result before stepping into the criminal court, no such promise can be made. Each case is as unique as the person accused of violating New York Penal Law 155.25 or New York Penal Law 165.40. While you and your criminal attorney need to fully analyze and assess your shoplifting case when ascertaining potential defenses and outcomes, there are some general guidelines that can assist you in understanding what to expect in a New York City (Manhattan Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens) courtroom. It is imperative to remember, however, that these guidelines are not set in stone and vary from county to county. Furthermore, these guidelines are fluid. What may be a guideline followed by prosecutors today may not be the same tomorrow. Lastly, keep in mind that the following general guidelines may not be followed in your case especially if you have prior convictions of any kind.
In any arrest for shoplifting that is equal to or less than $100, prosecutors will often move for (offer) and Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD). Such a deal will not require any type of plea or result in a criminal conviction. Additionally, prosecutors may seek some form of public community service. Regardless, if you stay out of trouble your case will be dismissed and sealed in six months.
Although it may seem that in such a case a criminal attorney is not necessary, think this conclusion through. Who will you consult with after your criminal case is over and an employer asks you weeks or years later about your past interactions with the criminal justice system? Similarly, what must you disclose on an application for employment, certification or license that your profession requires? For cases involving thefts $100 or less, the old adage is often correct. Don’t be a penny wise and a pound foolish.
In a New York City shoplifting arrest for either NY PL 165.40 or 155.25, if the property allegedly stolen had value in excess of $100, but less than $500, Assistant District Attorneys in New York City and Westchester often offer a Disorderly Conduct pursuant to New York Penal Law 240.20. A non-criminal violation (a plea will not give you a criminal record), a Disorderly Conduct is certainly better than a conviction for or plea to Petit Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree. Unfortunately, however, a Disorderly Conduct plea may not just go away eve though your case will be finished. While the law requires that this violation seals, it is fairy common to hear of people forced to confront their arrest charges years after their cases closed. Whether an employer learns of a past theft arrest or the arrest was found during a background check for security clearance, the embarrassment, stigma and problems caused by this information can have real world ramifications. Before considering a plea to a Disorderly Conduct make sure you have a thorough conversation and consultation with your criminal attorney to determine if it is the right deal for you. Remember, once you accept the offer and plea to a Disorderly Conduct it is difficult, if not impossible, to take back.Shoplifting in Excess of $500 and not More than $1,000.
Shoplifting arrests that fall short of felony levels are the most serious misdemeanor crimes involving NY PL 155.25 or NY PL 165.40. Often time prosecutors may make an offer, but the offer is to a lower level misdemeanor. Usually the offer made by Assistant District Attorneys in New York is to either Attempted Petit Larceny or Attempted Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree. These crimes are “B” misdemeanors. Although first time offenders are not likely to be sentenced to a term of jail, incarceration is a much greater possibility the closer you get to $1,000. As noted above, jail should not be the first concern if you are alleged to have committed a shoplifting crime of this magnitude in New York. Instead, you should immediately investigate with your criminal lawyer whether the case should be challenged factually, legally or mitigated so that you are put in the best place to avoid a criminal record. Much worse than a Disorderly Conduct, a plea to or conviction for any misdemeanor will give you a life long “rap sheet.”Shoplifting in Excess of $1,000
If you have the misfortune of being arrested in New York City for a shoplifting crime in excess of $1,000, there is a tremendous risk that you will face felony charges. Generally, these felony crimes are either Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (NY PL 155.30) and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree (NY PL 165.45) or Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (NY PL 155.35) and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (NY PL 165.50). The former set of crimes involves shoplifting items valued over $1,000 to $3,000 while the second set of crimes involves shoplifting where the value of the property is greater than $3,000, but not more than $50,000.
While the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC have successfully negotiated felony Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property charges down from felonies to misdemeanors, violations and even ACDs, there are no general guidelines for these level offenses. Make no mistake. Prison and felony records should be a very real concern to those charged with these offenses in New York City or elsewhere in New York State. It is critical to not only understand the proceedings and the law, but to make sure your counsel has the ability and knowledge base to challenge the case against you even if you believe the evidence is overwhelming. The last thing you want to see happen is that the wrong steps were taken and now you have been indicted by a Grand Jury, a professional license has been revoked or you have jeopardized your immigration status.
Whatever your defense may be, do not wait to consult with your counsel as to how that defense is best implemented. Remember, guidelines are merely guidelines. There is not guarantee an ACD or Disorderly Conduct will be offered on a $100, $200 or $600 theft. There is no substitute for being prepared. Can you get an ACD on a $900 theft, a violation on a $2,000 shoplift or a misdemeanor (or better) on a $35,000 larceny? No attorney can answer this question with a broad brushstroke, but by doing nothing or mishandling your case the likely answer is “no.” Start your defense today to best preserve tomorrow.
To further educate yourself on larceny and theft crimes in New York, please review the NewYorkTheftAndLarcenyLawyersBlog.Com and NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com. Both of these blogs, along with this website and CrottySaland.Com, contain analysis of criminal statutes, legal decisions and cases in the news.
Call the New York City Shoplifting Attorneys at Crotty Saland PC at 212.312.7129 or Contact Us Online to Start Your Criminal Defense Now