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.
Most shoplifters are charged with Class A misdemeanor violations of Penal Law Sections 155.25 (Petit Larceny) and 165.40 (Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree). If the merchandise is worth over $1000.00, then the charge can become a felony called Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (PL 155.30). Felony charges do not typically result in Desk Appearance Tickets – those individuials usually spend the night in jail before seeing a judge the next day.
A person charged with a Desk Appearance Ticket should consult with an attorney prior to the return date of the ticket and bring that lawyer to court. Only indigent people – people whose incomes are so low that they are truly impoverished – are eligible for public defenders. Moreover, one cannot contact a public defender to discuss a case prior to the court date. In some rare cases, it may be possible for a private attorney to appear on your behalf if you cannot possibly attend your court date. (The attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP do this routinely for foreign and out-of-state tourists).
Most defendants without criminal records charged with shoplifting can expect to receive plea bargain offers that do no result in permanent public criminal records, such as Disorderly Conduct (PL 240.20, a violation) or an "ACD" (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal), in exchange for the performance of community service or attendance at a rehabilitation program called Stoplift. If the property alleged to have been stolen is more than $400 or $500, then the initial offers tend to be more like Disorderly Conduct as opposed to ACDs, which are typically considered more desirable. A skilled defense attorney can sometimes negotiate ACDs where Disorderly Conduct is first offered, or even shorten the sealing period of an ACD from the standard six months (under certain circumstances).
These charges and plea dispositions can have serious unseen consequences for certain types of professionals, however. In particular, finance professoinals have to disclose these arrests on their U4 forms and some employees of FDIC-insured-institutions might even become ineligible to work in the industry. If this applies to you, you should contact Galluzzo & Arnone immediately, as they are experts in handling cases such as these for finance professionals.
These charges and plea dispositions can also have serious consequences for non-citizens with visas or looking to renew or obtain visas. We have seen individuals unable to renew or obtain their visas while these charges were pending, and convictions for these crimes can potentially render someone inadmissible into the United States. If this applies to you, you should contact Galluzzo & Arnone immediately, as they are experts in working with foreign citizens. In fact, their office serves as the official go-to criminal defense counsel for the Consulates of France, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, and Australia.
Many other individuals facing professional licensure (doctors, lawyers, etc.) and educators employed byt the NYC Department of Education can also have their professional careers interrupted by arrests like these. If this applies to you, you should contact our office, as we have successfully helped countless professionals in these industries return to work despite these issues.
To learn more about the potential collateral consequences for non-citizens, click here.
To learn more about the potential consequences for FINRA-licensed brokers or employees at FDIC-insured institutions, click here.
To learn more about arrests at major New York retail stores like Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Century 21, click here.
To learn more about shoplifting civil demands from stores like Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Century 21, click here.
To learn more about Desk Appearance Tickets for Shoplifting at NYC Midtown Community Court, click here.
To learn more about what to do if you missed your court date, click here.