Articles Posted in Larceny and Shoplifting

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Arrests for thefts from employers

Our attorneys have defended many individuals arrested for allegedly stealing from their employers. Many of them were responsible for their employers’ payrolls and were accused of writing fraudulent or fictitious checks. Others were accused of concealing personal purchases or transfers of money using company bank accounts or corporate credit cards.

When confronted by an employer in this situation, individuals should understand that anything they say to their employers can be used by law enforcement against them in later criminal prosecutions. Many people accused of stealing from their employers face a unique dilemma. Sometimes, an individual in this situation may be able to avoid having his or her employer report him or her to the police by repaying the allegedly stolen money. Of course, returning stolen money (or agreeing to do so) conversely also tends to prove that the money was, in fact, stolen. Thus, an offer to repay the money may help avoid a suspected embezzler avoid arrest, but if it fails to persuade the employer not to complain to the police, that offer to repay the money will make it very difficult to avoid a criminal conviction at trial. Thus, offering to repay the money is a risky move for a person in this situation, and can backfire. Sadly, some people agree to repay money that they didn't even steal, or agree to repay more than they actually took, and then get arrested and find themselves in very difficult and unfortunate situations.

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New York City owes much of its energy and excellence to the foreign citizens living and working here. Unfortunately, a visa or green card holder's right to remain in the United States can be seriously jeopardized by a Desk Appearance Ticket, even when the charges are comparatively minor misdemeanors. Many visa holders fail to take these arrests sufficiently seriously because the charges seem minor (like marijuana or subway fare theft) or because the arresting officer tells them "it's no big deal." Truthfully, though, career, educational, and family plans can be completely devastated by even a minor case of walking through the subway gate without paying, so it is absolutely critical that a foreign person arrested and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket retain competent counsel immediately.

In many ways, a Desk Appearance Ticket does not feel like such a big deal. The arrested person is usually handcuffed and taken to a police station where they are fingerprinted. They typically wait a few hours in a holding cell until they are given a piece of paper telling them the date and location of their appearance in court. Before Desk Appearance Tickets became routine, criminal defendants could expect to get "sent downtown" and spend the night in jail before seeing a judge. Obviously, Desk Appearance Tickets are preferable for criminal defendants because they spend less time in custody and also have the opportunity to choose counsel for themselves prior to going to court.

Make no mistake, however: the issuance of a Desk Appearance Ticket is in fact an arrest – it is not "just a ticket". More importantly for visa holders, this event is not going to "fly under the radar" with the immigration agencies. If you were arrested and given a Desk Appearance Ticket, your fingerprints and the arrest charges have been sent to a New York state agency (the Division of Criminal Justice Services) and to the FBI, which maintains a federal nationwide law enforcement database of all arrest events across the United States (the Interstate Identification Index). Visa and green card holders should understand that the immigration agencies, in processing visa renewal requests, access this database to investigate whether the visa applicant has an arrest record. Indeed, some visa holders actually receive emails from Department of Homeland Security (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) agents after their arrests, because the agency was notified of the arrest via the fingerprint database.

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Woodbury Commons Desk Appearance Ticket for Shoplifting (Penal Law Section 155.25)

Woodbury Commons is a popular outlet mall and shopping destination for tourists and locals alike. The designer clothing and other luxury items on sale there make it an easy place for shoppers to give in to temptation. Unfortunately, many of those people make the mistake of attempting to steal items, and suddenly find themselves confronted by the frightening prospect of a criminal prosecution.

People without criminal records caught shoplifting at a store at Woodbury Commons most typically receive Desk Appearance Tickets directing them to appear in the court at the Woodbury Justice Court which is located on 511 NY-32, Highland Mills, New York, on a later date. Shoplifters are usually caught by store security and then held until the police can arrive to effectuate an arrest. While waiting for police to arrive, store security guards might question a shoplifter or search through their purse or pockets. Many people complain that these searches and interrogations violate their constitutional rights, but the U.S. Constitution actually does not protect you from searches by private store security guards – it only protects you from law enforcement officers – and a store security guard does not have to read you your Miranda rights, either. So if store security finds other stolen items or contraband such as drugs on the person of a shoplifter, that could also result in additional criminal charges. Moreover, if you confess to stealing to a store security guard, or sign a document admitting what you have done, that document can be used against you by police and the government in a later criminal proceeding.

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H1B visas (allowing foreign citizens with highly specialized expertise in the areas of math, science and engineering, among others, to live and work in the United States) are highly sought after and not easy to get due to the limit – or “cap” – on the number of such visas granted each year. There are many highly-qualified professionals working in New York thanks to the H1B visa program, and they are welcome additions and assets to the community.

Unfortunately, even a minor arrest can derail an application or renewal for an H1B visa. The attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone have represented many individuals with H1B visas who have received Desk Appearance Tickets for misdemeanor arrests, including, among other things: Theft of Services (PL 165.15), Petit Larceny (PL 155.25), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (PL 220.03), Criminal Mischief (PL 145.00), Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (PL 221.10), and Assault in the Third Degree (PL 120.00). Some of these cases are oftentimes resolved with adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (“ACDs”) that would generally be considered to be favorable dispositions. However, ACDs typically involve six month waiting periods before the cases are dismissed, and any people who need to apply for or renew their H1B visas during that six month period are precluded from doing so (and thus unable to remain in the United States at their chosen and hard-earned job). Put plainly, an H1B visa will not be renewed if a criminal case is pending or if the ACD waiting period is still outsanding. This effect has also been noted in the context of other visa applications, such as F1 and J1 visas.

While these are generally not considered the most serious of cases, for visa holders, even these comparatively minor criminal cases can impact your life, career and renewal applications in a number of other ways. For example, convictions for these crimes can result in job loss, permanent criminal records, deportation or inadmissibility, fines, and potentially even jail time. A criminal case should never be taken lightly, but foreign citizens with visas need to be even more mindful of the consequences of an arrest.

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Arrests for shoplifting are incredibly common in New York City, and many of those individuals arrested for shoplifting are being arrested for the first time. Though arresting police officers typically assure people that the arrests are trivial and will not have any lasting consequences, the truth is that these cases need to be handled carefully because even seemingly small cases like these can have tremendous negative implications for hardworking people.

Most people arrested for shoplifting are held by store security guards until police arrive. During that time, store security guards typically force or trick the people they've detained to sign written confessions (by promising not to call the police if they sign) and trespass notices acknowledging that they are no longer allowed to shop at the store. Store security guards do not have to read people their Miranda rights because they are not police officers, but anything said to them can and will be used against them in courts of law.

Police officers then take these detained people to the local precinct, where the arrest process begins. Fingerprints are taken and paperwork is completed while the arrestees typically wait in a cell for about three to four hours. Then, the alleged shoplifter is usually given a Desk Appearance Ticket, which looks like this, which directs the shoplifter to appear in court at a later date. Failure to appear in court on that date results in a warrant being ordered for that person's arrest.

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One of the great things about living in (and visiting) New York City is the amazing nightlife. The city is home to some of the best nightclubs and bars in the world, including places in the Meatpacking District like Tenjune, 1Oak, The Griffin, Gaslight, Beaumarchais, the Standard (The Top of the Standard and Le Bain),as well as other clubs throughout Manhattan, such as Lavo, Santos Party House, Provocateur, Output, the Jane Hotel, Mehanata, Verboten, Cielo, Webster Hall, the Pyramid Club, the 40/40 Club, and the Marquee, among countless others. Unfortunately, arrests for theft, assault, sexual assault, and drugs are common at these sorts of establishments, and some unfortunate people aresaddled with more than just a hangover after a night partying at these places.

The attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have represented dozens of people arrested at nightclubs and bars throughout the city, and our experience as prosecutors and defense attorneys has taught us that certain types of cases are quite common. Through our experience on both sides we have also learned that these types of cases present unique challenges and opportunities for defense attorneys, and have learned how to best take advantage of the unique circumstances that these cases often present.

Arrests for theft-related charges are quite typical at NYC nightclubs and bars. Failing to pay a bar tab at a nightclub – where bottle services can cost thousands of dollars – can result in an arrest for Theft of Services (Penal Law Section 165.15), a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. We find that oftentimes the nightclubs are attempting to make outrageous and inflated charges and the patron is simply disputing those charges when being arrested. We have defended other individuals that were arrested before they could straighten out security checks imposed by their credit card companies. Typically, these cases can be resolved with non-criminal dispositions and payment for the services, and we have done that for many of our clients.

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Individuals without criminal records arrested for misdemeanors in New York City are routinely charged by way of a Desk Appearance Ticket. Though individuals issued Desk Appearance Ticket do not spend twenty-four hours in prison awaiting arraignment like other defendants, their cases are no less serious than those misdemeanor cases pursued the “traditional” way (in which defendants do not get released from custody until they are arraigned before a judge the day after their arrests). One of the advantages for defendants issued Desk Appearance Tickets (as opposed to the “traditional way”) is that they have an opportunity to seek counsel of their choosing for their arraignments. As a result, the attorney-authors of this blog are routinely asked: “Should I hire an attorney for my Desk Appearance Ticket?” Our typical answer: only if you care about your future, your career, or your family.

Public defenders are available for indigent defendants at arraignments on Desk Appearance Tickets. However, if you are not indigent, then you do not qualify for a public defender, meaning that you will have to return with a privately-retained lawyer anyway. Even if you do qualify, technically, for a public defender, you should consider various other reasons for hiring a private attorney. First and foremost, you will be unable to speak to a public defender in advance of your court date, whereas a private defense attorney can meet with you and prepare you and answer your questions in advance of your court date. Also, defendants with private attorneys are usually seen by the judge first and can typically leave before 10:30 am; those people relying on public defenders may find themselves waiting in line all day to talk to an attorney, and waiting to see a judge well into the afternoon session. If your case lasts beyond the arraignment, you may find it extremely difficult to get ahold of a public defender, as they are typically responsible for hundreds of criminal cases at a given moment and are often unable to respond to voicemails; in contrast, a private lawyer presumably has more time to answer your phone calls and questions and meet with you in the office. The private attorneys at our office, unlike public defenders, will continue to work on your case after its done to ensure that where, if applicable, the records of your arrest have been properly sealed and the matter cleared from the public domain. Finally, the attorneys at our office, unlike public defenders, can sometimes in certain types of cases assist out-of-state residents, students, or foreign citizens by appearing for them in lieu of personal appearances.

Most importantly, though, these matters are important and must be taken seriously. A criminal conviction – even for a misdemeanor – can create permanent obstacles to employment, naturalization, university admission, and more. There is no expungement of criminal convictions in New York, so a criminal conviction for even a misdemeanor is a permanent matter of public record and can haunt a person for the rest of his or her life. FINRA-licensed brokers can unwittingly jeopardize their careers in seemingly trivial matters, and non-citizens can prevent themselves from being able to stay in the United States in accepting a disposition that seems otherwise reasonable. These are mistakes that can be avoided with the advice of good and prepared counsel.

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The Wall Street Journal has reported that 106 people will be arrested soon for allegedly committing social security fraud in connection with post-9/11 trauma and mental illness claims. According to reports, the prosecution’s theory will be that certain individuals provided false information in claims filings which led to huge, unjustified benefits receipts. Specifically, it appears that they will allege that people who submitted these claims either were not completely forthcoming or flat-out lied about the condition they claimed entitled them to the benefit.

Potential felony charges could include grand larceny (PL Article 155), assuming that the alleged theft is over $1,000 per person, falsifying business records (PL Article 175), offering a false instrument for filing (PL Article 175), insurance fraud (PL Article 176), and others.

Each individual case, however, must be examined carefully, as there are sure to be strong defenses to many of the charges and with regard to many of the individuals. After all, many of New York’s Finest and Bravest did in fact suffer debilitating injuries and PTSD as a result of the 9/11 tragedy. However, we expect that any FDNY and NYPD retirees receiving social security disability pensions as a result of 9/11 will at least be investigated, and possibly even be presumed to be guilty of fraud in the eyes of the prosecution (especially so if their applications for disability were assisted by any of the individuals that have already been indicted and arraigned). Thus, it is quite possible that some people will be unfairly charged and prosecuted.

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An experienced New York state and federal criminal defense attorney explains the law in New York state as it relates to blackmail.

Recently, late night talk show host David Letterman went to law enforcement authorities because he claimed that he was the victim of blackmail. Both state and federal law make it illegal to blackmail someone in New York. Under federal law, 18 USC Section 873 (Chapter 41: Extortion and Threats) is specifically named “Blackmail,” and applies to “[w]hoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing…” The charge goes on to say that any such person “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

In New York state law, there is no specific “blackmail” statute, but there are laws against extortion contained in the Penal Law. Penal Law Section 155.05 defines the various methods by which a person can commit larceny under New York state law, and specifically includes several forms of extortion in Subsection (2)(e). That subsection explains the following: