Shoplifting laws in New York
In the USA, each state sets its penalties to classify theft crimes. Experienced criminals are aware if the felony limitations and adopt their criminal activities to the thresholds of a chosen state. Speaking about shoplifting in New York State, New York Penal Law states the following: "A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof." In case the value of stolen merchandise is less than $1000, a theft can be punished by up to one year in jail. The higher value, the more serious charges.
Civil penalties for shoplifting in NY
A person who commits shoplifting in New York gets both criminal and civil penalties. A civil action is a lawsuit filed by a private person (not the government) against another private person. In most cases, store owners or merchants apply to the court for the civil penalties. Consequently, a theft is civilly liable for the retail price of merchandise in an amount up to $1500 (if merchandise was not returned in a sellable condition). And plus a penalty that does not exceed the greater of five times the retail price or $75 with a cap of $500.
Wrongly arrested in New York
New York has a population of almost 8.5 million people. Due to the population density New York residents are used to shopping in crowded stores and in small spaces. It results in numerous mistakes at the determination of a true shoplifter and identity theft. One more thing is that some shops can get profit by having you arrested. Be careful with huge malls, because there are certain rules. For instance, you can’t take unpaid merchandise from one floor to another. Many factors can cause you wrongful arrest.
Identification of a shoplifter
Retail stores usually have equipment to capture shoplifter’s actions. The ideal case is to identify a theft while he is in the store. However, if you managed to leave unnoticed, you might still be in danger. The store may record a video or a picture with you taking merchandise illegally. When you are identified in the footage, you can be charged with theft any time.
Shoplifting for $100
Shoplifting laws in NYC are non-judgmental if you steal merchandise valued at $100 or less. In most cases prosecutors move for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. In other words, six months from the time the deal is accepted, your case will be sealed. What’s important is that you do not get a criminal record. In some situations, you will have to spend a couple of days for community service.
If you are contacted by the police
You need to be careful when you get a phone call from a police officer. If he asks you about the incident, you’d better not answer the questions unless the police get you a lawyer. Anything that you said to the police officer can be used against you in court. You need to assert your right to a lawyer. In many cases, shoplifters try to talk themselves out of a situation. It is your own choice, but be ready to bear liability for it as well.
Hire a criminal defense lawyer
When you are accused of shoplifting in New York, you need defense. A criminal defense lawyer will provide you with a confidential case evaluation and defend you in court. The lawyer will give professional advice in the situation you are facing, any defense you might have and ways to achieve the least penalties. However, shoplifting laws in NYC will not let your shoplifting arrest simply disappear. If you are convicted of a serious case of shoplifting, you will have a criminal record and it will influence tremendously your career and livelihood.
In certain cases, if you are accused of shoplifting, you may have a right for a diversion program in the place of incarceration. If you have completed the program satisfactorily, the criminal charges will be released. However, it may happen that diversion programs are not possible in some situations. But anyway your attorney can negotiate with a prosecutor to reduce the sentence. A plea bargain may help greatly. You will plead guilty in return for lesser charges.