When compared to other, more serious crimes, shoplifting, also known as petty/petit larceny or retail fraud, doesn’t seem so serious. Many people think of shoplifting as a victimless crime, one that mostly teenagers commit. However, retailers and law enforcement in New York City take shoplifting offenses very seriously.
In some cases, a retailer may have misunderstood your intentions, leaving you wrongfully detained and accused of a crime when you intended to pay for the item in question. Other times, innocent mistakes get blown out of proportion, making them seem like serious, intentional crimes. No matter your situation, you should take shoplifting charges against you or a loved one very seriously. The potential consequences could change your life.
New York treats shoplifting as a serious crime
Shoplifting is a serious offense in New York. It can carry a host of potential penalties, depending on the alleged value of items it’s alleged were stolen. When determining criminal charges and potential penalties, the value of the items in question make all the difference. The vast majority of people accused of shoplifting will fall into the lowest category for the offense.
For any amount of shoplifted items up to $1,000, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the items in question have values between $1,000 and $3,000, the offense increases from petit larcency to grand larceny in the fourth degree, which is a class E felony. The potential penalties include as many as four years in jail, fines up to $5,000 or double the amount taken from the store.
Some people target much more expensive items, like designer clothing, purses or jewelry. They could find themselves accused of shoplifting items with values between $3,000 and $50,000. The charges associated with that value are class D felony charges, which carry up to seven years in prison and fines of double the offender’s gain from shoplifting.
Additional penalties can impact your life
Getting accused of shoplifting can cause all kinds of issues. You may end up publicly humiliated, forced to walk through a retail establishment in handcuffs in full view of the public. If convicted, you will be saddled with a criminal record that could impact your ability to secure a new job, earn that big promotion or rent a nice apartment.
It’s also important to know that the law allows retailers to bring lawsuits against those convicted of shoplifting to recover the cost of stolen items. Shoplifting charges can have an impact that lasts for years. It’s important to take these charges seriously and explore all of your defense strategies.