Posts Tagged ‘petit larceny’

Shoplifting Desk Appearance Tickets in NYC – Holiday Edition

Friday, December 13th, 2013

During the frenzied pre-Christmas shopping period, hundreds of alleged New York shoplifters will inevitably be stopped and arrested by over-aggressive store security guards in the giant retail stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, J&R, Century 21, Barney’s, and Sak’s Fifth Avenue. Typically, those people will be taken into store security rooms and interrogated by security guards. In those meetings, store security guards often demand that the suspects – who are oftentimes confused foreign tourists – sign coerced and untrue written confessions on the false promise that they won’t be turned over to police. Then, police will arrive and take custody of the suspects. Those accused individuals without any prior arrest records will most likely be fingerprinted and processed, issued a Desk Appearance Ticket, and released upon condition that they appear in court on a later date.

Most alleged shoplifters are charged with violations of Penal Law Sections 155.25 and 165.40. The former statute, Penal Law Section 155.25, is a Class A misdemeanor called “Petit Larceny” and instructs that a person is guilty of it when he “steals property.” This crime does not carry mandatory jail time but is punishable by up to a year in prison. When the property is worth more than $1000.00, the theft becomes the felony of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree under Penal Law Section 155.30.

Those individuals that never exited the store or passed the register without paying but merely had the property concealed (or had removed the security tag from the clothing/property, for example) will likely be charged just the same, though charges of Attempted Petit Larceny (110/155.25) or Attempted Grand Larceny (110/155.30) are also possible. In fact, we know from experience representing clients that Macy’s will routinely accuse someone of shoplifting and arrest them if an individual takes property from one floor of the store to another without paying for the item before going up or down the escalator/elevator.

Shoplifters are usually also charged with a violation of Penal Law Section 165.40, which is also a Class A misdemeanor called “Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree.” A person is guilty of it when he “knowingly possesses stolen property.” Possession of more than $1000.00 of stolen property can also result in felony charges of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree under Penal Law Section 165.45.

In Manhattan, a Desk Appearance Ticket can be returnable to the criminal court located at 100 Centre Street downtown or, if the arrest occurred uptown, to the Midtown Manhattan Court. In our experience, prosecutors at the downtown court often make slightly different plea bargain offers on shoplifting cases as compared to the prosecutors uptown, though the prosecutors both work for the same office. In some cases, it may be possible for the individual to avoid having to appear personally in court if represented properly by an expert attorney, and it may also be possible to resolve the case without any permanent criminal conviction.

Nevertheless, these accusations can be quite serious and can trigger particularly damaging consequences for professionals (for example FINRA-licensed professionals, among others), non-citizens, and students aspiring to college or graduate school. If you or a loved one have been accused of shoplifting and received a Desk Appearance Ticket, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney that has successfully helped countless individuals obtain dismissals of these charges.

Shoplifiting Civil Demands under N.Y. General Obligations Law §11-105

Monday, November 12th, 2012

First-time offenders arrested for shoplifting at large department stores in New York (such as Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Century 21, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, or Uniqlo) typically receive Desk Appearance Tickets, or DATS, from the police.  (For more on shoplifting and petit larceny arrests, click here and here.).  However, many shoplifting defendants also soon receive letters from lawyers representing the stores containing civil demands for financial settlements pursuant to New York General Obligations Law §11-105.

Stores actually do have the right to pursue civil claims for monetary damages against shoplifting defendants, even in cases in which the property was recovered and undamaged.  General Obligations Law §11-105 explains thusly:

§ 11-105. Larceny  in  mercantile establishments. 1. When used in this
  section, the term "mercantile  establishment"  shall  mean  a  place  or
  vehicle  where  goods,  wares  or  merchandise are offered for sale or a
  place or vehicle from which deliveries of goods,  wares  or  merchandise
  are made.
    2.  When used in this section, the term "larceny" is an act heretofore
  defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking as  defined
  in  paragraph  (a) of subdivision two of section 155.05 of the penal law
  committed against the property of a mercantile establishment.
    3. When used in this section, the term "emancipated minor" shall  mean
  a  person  who  was  over  the age of sixteen at the time of the alleged
  larceny and who was no longer a dependent of or  in  the  custody  of  a
  parent or legal guardian.
    4.  In  any  proceeding brought under this section the burden of proof
  shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.
    5. An adult or emancipated  minor  who  commits  larceny  against  the
  property  of  a  mercantile establishment shall be civilly liable to the
  operator of such establishment in an amount consisting of:
    (a)  the  retail  price  of  the  merchandise  if  not  recovered   in
  merchantable  condition  up  to  an amount not to exceed fifteen hundred
  dollars; plus
    (b) a penalty not to exceed the greater of five times the retail price
  of the merchandise or seventy-five dollars; provided, however,  that  in
  no event shall such penalty exceed five hundred dollars.
    6.  Parents  or  legal  guardians  of  an unemancipated minor shall be
  civilly liable for said minor who commits larceny against  the  property
  of  a  mercantile establishment to the operator of such establishment in
  an amount consisting of:
    (a)  the  retail  price  of  the  merchandise  if  not  recovered   in
  merchantable  condition  up  to  an amount not to exceed fifteen hundred
  dollars; plus
    (b) a penalty not to exceed the greater of five times the retail price
  of the merchandise or seventy-five dollars; provided, however,  that  in
  no event shall such penalty exceed five hundred dollars.
    7.  A  conviction  or a plea of guilty for committing larceny is not a
  prerequisite to the bringing of a civil suit, obtaining a  judgment,  or
  collecting that judgment under this section.
    8.  The  fact that an operator of a mercantile establishment may bring
  an action against an individual as provided in this  section  shall  not
  limit the right of such merchant to demand, orally or in writing, that a
  person  who is liable for damages and penalties under this section remit
  the damages and penalties prior to the commencement of any legal action.
    9. In any action brought under subdivision six of  this  section,  the
  court shall consider in the interest of justice mitigating circumstances
  that  bear  directly upon the actions of the parent or legal guardian in
  supervising the unemancipated minor who committed the larceny.
    10. An action for recovery of damages and penalties under this section
  may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction.
    11. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to  prohibit
  or  limit  any  other  cause of action which an operator of a mercantile
  establishment may have against a person who unlawfully takes merchandise
  from the mercantile establishment.
    12. Any testimony or statements  of  the  defendant  or  unemancipated
  minor  child of the defendant or any evidence derived from an attempt to
  reach a civil settlement or from a civil proceeding brought  under  this
  section  shall be inadmissible in any other court proceeding relating to
  such larceny.

As explained above, even in cases in which the merchandise is recovered (which is usually the case for people arrested for shoplifting), the store can demand either five times the value of the stolen merchandise (up to $500), or $75.  Sometimes the civil penalties can be reduced through negotiation, or an arrested person can ignore the demand and risk being sued in civil court.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for shoplifting, you should strongly consider retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney. A good lawyer can minimize your headaches – both civil and criminal – and maybe even prevent you from receiving a permanent criminal record.

 

Do I have to appear in court for my New York Desk Appearance Ticket?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The short answer to the question above is: probably, but maybe not.  If you have been issued a Desk Appearance Ticket in New York City, the chances are that your case is an unusual misdemeanor that required some investigation by the prosecutor, or you are first-time offender charged with shoplifting, theft of services (like jumping a turnstile, for example), marijuana possession in public, or low-level possession of a controlled substance.   If your case falls into the latter category (shoplifting [Penal Law 155.25], theft of services [Penal Law 165.15], marijuana possession in public [Penal Law 221.10], or low-level drug possession [Penal Law 220.03]), and you have a genuine hardship in appearing (say, you live in a far-away state or a foreign country), you may be able to give an affidavit to an attorney authorizing him to appear on your behalf and accept a pre-arranged disposition on your behalf.  This is only true in some counties and in certain types of cases and needs to be arranged with the prosecutor in advance.

If you or a loved one have been given a Desk Appearance Ticket, you should contact experienced Desk Appearance Ticket attorneys who routinely handle a wide variety of Desk Appearance Tickets and have represented countless clients from out-of-state and foreign countries faced with the prospect of long and expensive trips for the sake of quick appearances in court on minor charges.  If you are unable to appear in court for your arraignment because of the distance or hardship, they may be able to help you.

Shoplifting Arrests in New York City at Macy’s, Century 21 or Bloomingdale’s

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Departments stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are some of the most common places for petit larceny arrests to occur.  Similar arrests are also commonplace in such retailers as Century 21 and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Oftentimes a misunderstanding between a customer and overzealous security staff can lead to police involvement — even in cases where customers had absolutely no intent to steal anything at all.  Most often the customer will be a first-time arrestee and receive a Desk Appearance Ticket or a D.A.T.  (DAT).  The ticket will specify a return date where the customer will have to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street or Midtown Community Court at 314 West 54th Street.  At that appearance, a criminal action will commence, and the customer will have to defend his or her case.  To make matters worse, even before the customer appears in court, he or she may receive a letter from Macy’s Loss Prevention stating that civil damages are owed under Section 11-105 of the General Obligation of the New York State Consolidated Laws.

Generally speaking, most people who are arrested at one of these department stores will be charged with violating New York State Penal Law section 155.25 — the Petit Larceny statute.  If, however, the value of the goods exceeds $1000, there is a chance that the case will be deemed and charged as a Grand Larceny under New York Penal Law section 155.30(1).  The latter violation is a felony which would require the indictment of a grand jury to proceed.  In many of those cases, the matter can be negotiated down to a lesser charge with the District Attorney’s office.

If you fall into the category of people unfortunate enough to have been arrested in Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s or another retail or department store, you should contact an attorney experienced in handling department store shoplifting cases who can help you deal with both your criminal case and the civil damages claim.

Shoplifting Desk Appearance Tickets and NYC Midtown Community Court

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Of those who are arrested in Manhattan for shoplifting and directed to appear in Midtown Community Court in New York City, we often encounter clients who fail to take the situation they are in seriously. These clients are arrested and issued Desk Appearance Tickets (D.A.T.s) and then released without going through the unpleasant experience of being transported to Central Booking. As we’ve stressed before in prior blogs, the D.A.T. is to be taken seriously – this blog deals specifically with appearance tickets issued in cases involving shoplifting where defendants are directed to appear in Midtown Court, located at 314 West 54th Street.

In the typical shoplifting case, the defendant is observed by store security guards (usually on camera in larger department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s) either conceal merchandise openly on camera, or go to an area of the store where the cameras cannot film them and secret the items on their person, only to emerge seemingly empty-handed. Store security stops the individuals before they exit the store without paying (the law doesn’t require that they actually make it out of the store – a larceny only requires a “moving” of the property with an intent to permanently deprive the owner of it) and the police are notified. Usually, in cases where a New York State resident with valid identification with no arrest record is caught shoplifting, responding police officers will issue a Desk Appearance Ticket in lieu of “putting the accused through the system”, meaning they get to avoid sitting in a holding cell downtown for at least 24 hours before seeing a judge. This is where we see clients fail to take the situation seriously – (“they just gave me a ticket, what’s the big deal?”) – but the truth of the matter is these clients are generally charged with two class “A” misdemeanors, both of which are punishable by up to one year in jail – petit larceny, and its accompanying charge, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree. Those charges are listed below:

§ 155.25 Petit larceny.

A person is guilty of petit larceny when he steals property.

Petit larceny is a class A misdemeanor.

 

§ 165.40 Criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree.

A  person  is  guilty of criminal possession of stolen property in the

fifth degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to

benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the

recovery by an owner thereof.

Criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree is a  class

A misdemeanor.

 

The accused shoplifters in these cases are directed to appear several weeks later at 314 West 54th Street at 9:30 a.m. to be arraigned on criminal charges. If no disposition is worked out by a lawyer on that day, all of the cases are then adjourned to continue towards trial at the Criminal Court on 100 Centre Street.

There are two primarily concerns that we stress to our clients in these cases – one is that their failure to appear on the return date in Midtown Court will result in a warrant being issued for their arrest (not a good thing). The other is that it is imperative to avoid incurring a criminal record in every case possible. In other words, if you’ve been charged with Petit Larceny and/or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, it is important to hire an attorney who can work out a disposition for you which does NOT include a plea to any crime. The imposition of a criminal record is a devastating thing and can have serious collateral consequences.

At Galluzzo & Johnson LLP, our team of former NYC prosecutors are experienced in dealing with these specific cases, both on the prosecution side and on the defense side – and have handled many cases at Midtown Community Court, which we are very familiar with. We have represented individuals from all walks of life and secured the bests results for them. If you or a loved one has been issued a D.A.T., don’t just call a shoplifting lawyer - contact our lawyers immediately and schedule a free consultation. Do not risk incurring a criminal record and jeopardizing your future.’

“Shoplifting Desk Appearance Tickets and NYC Midtown Community Court”

Shoplifting and Larceny under New York Penal Law 155.25 or 155.30

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

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 appearance.

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.