Many New Yorkers are arrested each year for shoplifting. Some people, particularly
those without prior criminal records, will be issued a desk appearance
ticket by the New York City Police Department. Others will be taken to
central booking, arraigned, and prosecuted for petit larceny under New
York Penal Law section 155.25.
For those new to the system, this can be a stressful and worrisome process.
Arrestees have various concerns:
“When will I see the judge?”
"Will I be held in jail?"
"Will the judge set bail?"
"Who will represent me?"
"What am I being charged with?"
"What impact will this have on my record?"
"Will this affect my job?"
This post will attempt to answer some of these questions. Of course, nothing
in the post is designed to be legal advice, which should be immediately
sought from a
new york criminal defense attorney experienced in handling petit larceny
cases in New York.
Initial Court Appearance and Bail
If you have been issued a desk appearance ticket, you will be released
from the police station after receiving it. The desk appearance ticket
itself will contain your name, the arrest number, the top offense charged,
the county in which you were arrested, the name and signature of the officer
who arrested you, and the date, time, and location of your initial court
After consulting with a lawyer, you will then appear on the date on the
desk appearance ticket to be arraigned. There are various purposes of
an arraignment proceeding: (i) to allow for the prosecution and court
to formally inform you of the charges; (ii) for you and your lawyer to
receive a misdemeanor complaint (a charging document); (iii) for the prosecution
to provide you and your lawyer with notice of any statements or police-arranged
identification procedures they employed that they intend to use against
you; (iv) for the court to consider the question of bail; and v) for the
prosecution to either make an offer of a lesser charge or to inform you
and the court of what sentence they would recommend if they feel it is
appropriate that you be prosecuted for the top charged offense, which,
for the purposes of this post, would be petit larceny and perhaps criminal
possession of stolen property.
If you have a prior criminal record or the police determine that it is
appropriate for other reasons, you will not receive a desk appearance
ticket, but instead will be “processed” through central booking
station of the NYPD or other arresting agency and will see the judge within
24 hours of your arrest.
The arraignment proceeding for those “processed” defendants
will be the same as for those who received desk appearance tickets, but
will happen much more quickly. In both cases, after you receive the charging
documents and are informed of the petit larceny charges, you will be given
an opportunity to plead guilty to the top charge or to a lesser charge,
if the prosecutor deems it appropriate under the circumstances.
If there is no disposition, the government will be heard on the question
of bail. For most people without criminal histories, the prosecutor will
usually recommend that you be released on your own recognizance, or “ROR’d.”
If there are circumstances that give the government reason to believe
that you will not return to court, the prosecutor will ask for a set amount
of bail. The amount of bail will be determined by a variety of factors,
including criminal history, bench warrant history, ties to the community,
and your employment situation.
Whether or not bail has been set, if there is no disposition of your case,
you will be given a new date to appear in a different court part to either
continue to fight or resolve your case after plea bargaining.
The Petit Larceny Charge
Petit Larceny, under New York PL 155.25, is a very simply-defined crime:
“A person is guilty of petit larceny when he steals property.”
Petit Larceny is a class A misdemeanor. According to the statutory definitions,
“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.” An “owner” for purposes of the
statute, is defined as follows: “When property is taken, obtained
or withheld by one person from another person, an ‘owner’
thereof means any person who has a right to possession thereof superior
to that of the taker, obtainer or withholder.” Penal Law 155.00(5).
Simply put, although there is a lot of detail in the statute, if you are
caught removing items from a store, and you walk past the registers and
attempt to leave without paying, you will likely be charged with petit larceny.
The Grand Larceny Charge
It should be noted here, however, that oftentimes a person who thinks that
they are committing a minor offense may wind up being charged with a felony.
Although there are several other factors which may result in elevation,
in simple terms, New York changes the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony
if the value of the property allegedly stolen exceeds $1000 (Grand larceny
in the fourth degree under PL 155.30, a class E felony), $3000 (Grand
larceny in the third degree under PL 155.35, a class D felony), $50,000
(Grand larceny in the second degree under PL 155.40, a class C felony),
or $1,000,000 (Grand larceny in the first degree under PL 155.42, a class
B felony). The value figure that the statute uses is the “market
value of the property at the time and place of the crime, or if such cannot
be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property
within a reasonable time after the crime.” PL 155.20(1).
Disposition and Collateral Consequences
District Attorneys in the five boroughs of New York City as well as greater
New York and upstate have been known to give two non-criminal dispositions
offers at arraignments or, after consultations with defense attorneys,
at a subsequent court proceeding: (i) a disorderly conduct violation under
Penal Law 240.20 or (ii) an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal
under Criminal Procedure Law 170.55.
Whether and under what circumstances you would receive one of those two
non criminal dispositions in a petit larceny case will depend upon a variety
of variables, such as the individual prosecutor with whom you are dealing,
your defense counsel, and the big picture scenario in your life that led
up to the incident.
As far as collateral consequences are concerned, a disorderly conduct violation
is not a crime and would be sealed by operation of law after the entry
of the plea and the sentence. An adjournment in contemplation of dismissal
can eventually produce an even better result. As long as you stay out
of trouble for the period of time set forth by the judge and comply with
any and all other conditions set forth by the court, the case is actually
dismissed and the arrest and prosecution become a legal nullity.
Importantly, if you have been arrested for or charged with petit larceny,
you should consult with experienced
New York criminal defense attorneys before going to court.
desk appearance ticket,
Manhattan Criminal Court,