Articles Posted in Shoplifting

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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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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.