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NY Shoplifting Lawyers

New York Shoplifting Laws
In New York, shoplifting is a serious issue. There are some who estimate that shoplifters cause businesses to lose billions of dollars each year. Because of this, prosecutors in New York are aggressive against shoplifters. The legal definition for shoplifting in New York is referred to as larceny.

There are two types of larceny that are known as grand larceny and petit larceny according to New York Penal Law 155. When an individual steals property that is valued at less than $1,000, he or she will be charged with petit larceny, and when the value of the property stolen is more than $1,000, it results in a grand larceny charge. Although most cases involving shoplifting are classified as petit larceny, there are many instances where individuals take much more than $1,000 worth of property.

To combat shoplifters, many retail stores use anti-theft equipment, which may include surveillance cameras, sensor tags, and electronic security systems. In addition, many stores enlist the services of uniformed and undercover security guards.

When an individual is caught shoplifting, he or she may face civil penalties in addition to criminal charges. The New York law states that a retail establishment can file a lawsuit against a shoplifter for up to five times the amount of the stolen property. Due to the fact these charges can be accompanied with civil penalties, it is important for these individuals to seek legal guidance from a criminal defense attorney.
There are many different forms shoplifting can take place, which may include putting unpaid goods into a purse, pocket, or bag. In addition, an individual who changes the price tags of items may also be charged with shoplifting. There are some who use bags that are made to block the electronic security monitors at the entrances of stores. Some employees have even been charged with shoplifting for assisting others in stealing merchandise.

It is important to note that a security guard at a retail store must have a valid reason to believe an individual is shoplifting, so they are not allowed to detain individuals solely based on factors that include age, race, or ethnicity. In addition, a security guard at a retail store must also detain an individual in a respectful manner and should never use physical force or verbal threats. When circumstances are warranted, a security guard may use handcuffs, but they must do so in a manner that doesn’t cause physical harm or use excessive force. Although security guards are allowed to detain a suspected shoplifter, they are not allowed to do so for extended periods of time. After a short time, if the police do not arrive, the security guard is violating the rights of the accused shoplifter.

Security guards are not able to use aggressive behavior to get a confession from suspected shoplifters. In addition, there have been circumstances where individuals have appeared to be leaving a store with unpaid merchandise, so a security guard will detain them, but if he or she didn’t actually leave the store with unpaid goods, a security guard can’t prove they had intentions to steal.

If you are accused of shoplifting items from a retail store, the police may take you into custody. However, a police officer may issue a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT). When a police officer issues a DAT, the accused shoplifter will not be immediately taken into custody but must show up in court on a specific date. If an individual fails to show up on his or her court date, the accused will automatically be charged with grand larceny or petit larceny. Although a DAT may only state one criminal charge, a prosecutor may choose to peruse additional charges.

Petit larceny can be accompanied with criminal possession of stolen property, which is considered a Class A misdemeanor in New York. When the property that was stolen is valued at more than $1,000, an individual may be charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and grand larceny in the fourth degree. Most of the time, a prosecutor will attempt to put the highest possible value on a stolen item to ensure an individual is charged with grand larceny and not petit larceny. However, the laws in New York have specific guidelines as to how a prosecutor should value stolen goods. When establishing the value of stolen property, the market value at the time the act occurred must be used according to New York Penal Law 155.20.

Regardless of if an individual is charged with grand larceny, petit larceny, or another charge that is related to theft, he or she could face serious consequences if convicted. These penalties may include a costly fine, a jail or prison sentence, as well as post-release probation. In addition, a larceny conviction can also lead to the following:
Civil penalties
Criminal record
Problems obtaining a job
Problems getting a professional license
Restitution
A ban from a retail store

If you have been accused of shoplifting in New York, it is vital to seek legal guidance as soon as possible to make certain that your rights are protected.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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