Rockland County Shoplifting Lawyer
Allegations involving theft are among the most common cases in New York’s criminal courts. Perhaps the most prevalent examples of theft cases are those involving shoplifting. Unlike many other states, New York does not differentiate between shoplifting and other forms of theft.
Those accused of shoplifting may think that because they never took the item out of the store the prosecutor cannot prove that they stole the item. However, the State’s definitions of shoplifting include not just the actual taking of an item, but any actions that would reasonably lead to the taking.
A Rockland County shoplifting lawyer could help someone with presenting their side of the story in court. An experienced theft attorney could cross-examine the state’s witnesses, provide an alternative version of events, and work to protect the constitutional rights of the accused.
Actions that Are Considered Shoplifting
There is no criminal offense labeled as shoplifting under New York Penal Law. Instead, shoplifting is included as one of many definitions of larceny under New York Penal Law §155.05. This statute states that any taking of property with the intent to deprive another of its use is a crime.
The key idea here is the concept of intent. In many allegations of shoplifting, the police arrest a person who never actually removed the property from the store. A defendant, in this case, may argue that since they never took the item out of the store, they never actually stole it. In cases such as these, the prosecutor may introduce evidence of the defendant’s intent to steal the item. This can include:
- Putting the item inside a coat or in a pocket
- Concealing the item in a baby carriage
- Placing one item inside of the box for another
- Changing price tags in an attempt to fool the cashier
Any of these examples may count as evidence that a person intended to steal the item. As with many criminal charges, an attempt to commit a crime can be just as severe as actually committing the act. For any questions about the crime of shoplifting, call an attorney in Rockland County.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Rockland County
New York’s Penal Law punishes allegations of larceny according to the dollar value of the items taken. The more valuable the item, the harsher the penalty. When the court makes this determination, it calculates the value of all items taken as a total. Therefore, a person convicted of taking four cell phones valued at $500 each is charged as if they took one item valued at $2,000.
The most basic version of larceny is petit larceny under New York Penal Law §155.25. This applies whenever the value of the items is under $1,000. A conviction here is a class A misdemeanor, meaning the person can be sent to jail for no more than one year. However, the defendant in these cases is also usually required to pay restitution to the store owner for the value of the items taken. Therefore, it is important for someone facing shoplifting penalties to seek the services of a Rockland County lawyer.
Felony Shoplifting Penalties
More serious versions of shoplifting are called grand larceny. These are felony-level charges where a conviction can result in prison sentences longer than one year. It is imperative for someone facing felony charges to obtain a well-trained attorney. There are four degrees of grand larceny:
- Grand larceny in the fourth degree where the value of the items stolen ranges between $1,000 and $3,000
- Grand larceny in the third degree with the value stolen exceeding $3,000
- Grand larceny in the second degree where the value stolen is more than $50,000
- Grand larceny in the first degree where the value stolen is greater than $1 million
What Are Common Defenses to Shoplifting Charges?
There are a few potential defenses to a shoplifting charge. The most common defense is a lack of criminal intent. It is not uncommon for people to absentmindedly pick up an item, decide not to purchase it, and forget to put it back. These mistakes are not criminal acts since they did not intend to steal the item. However, this situation can lead to criminal charges.
Sometimes, a shoplifting arrest could result from a mistake by law enforcement. An officer or store employee might mistake a customer placing an item in their bag as an effort to steal it. An attorney in Rockland County could determine what kind of defense strategy may work best for a shoplifting case.
Do Shoplifting Cases Go to Trial?
It is always possible for a shoplifting case to go to trial. However, many of these cases conclude through a successful plea bargain. Other defendants may see their charges dismissed. The reality is that a trial can be the best option for some defendants in certain situations. This is a discussion worth having with a Rockland County lawyer early on in the legal process following a shoplifting charge.
A Rockland County Shoplifting Attorney Can Help Fight These Charges
Allegations of shoplifting are serious matters. Even if the alleged theft involves a small item worth only a few dollars, a conviction could result in serious jail time. It is possible for the court to convict a person even if they never removed the item from the store. For this reason, it is important to speak with an attorney who understands New York’s larceny laws and how to defend against them.
A Rockland County shoplifting lawyer could work with someone accused of this offense to help them understand the nature of their charges, formulate a defense, and put that defense into effect. Contact an attorney today to schedule a consultation.