Petit Larceny is a misdemeanor not a felony, right? After all, New York wouldn’t call New York Penal Law 155.25 “Petty Larceny” if it was a felony crime. Even if you look at New York’s Larceny statutes in New York Penal Law Article 155.00, Petit Larceny, codified as NY PL 155.25, doesn’t have any degree where other theft offenses often have degrees. For that matter, it seems to make sense if Grand Larceny is a felony, then Petit Larceny is a misdemeanor.
It is difficult for many people to imagine being convicted of Petit Larceny, PL 155.25, for stealing items from a department store without ever leaving that store. “How can you prove I was going to steal anything if I’m still inside the store?” You can’t give me a Desk Appearance Ticket for PL 165.40. I never left Century 21 or Sephora! However, protests aside, under the law of the State of New York, not only can a person be convicted of Petit Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property without ever leaving the store, a person can potentially be convicted of that crime without ever taking the item off the shelf. As strange and illegal as this may seem, a criminal defense attorney and NYC shoplifting lawyer should easily be able to explain how the law allows for such an arrest.
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, Orange County, is an outlet center that opened in late 1985 and has since expanded repeatedly over the years. The outlet center now how has about 220 stores and is one of the largest outlet centers in the country. The outlets are not only a destination for locals in Orange, Rockland and other nearby counties, but also for tourists visiting New York City, and City residents.
The size and nature of the complex attracts countless shoppers every year in addition to shoplifters and those using forged credit cards or other means of theft. Those arrested for these theft-related crimes will be prosecuted in Town of Woodbury Justice Court, and the County Court for Orange County in Goshen, NY if the case is indicted. This blog will address some of the crimes and criminal offenses prosecutors in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office can pursue for a shoplifting arrest or misuse and fraud involving credit cards.
When you are a professional and your career depends on your name and character, the mere allegations of an arrest can be devastating. An allegation is often the equivalent to a conviction. Whether you work in banking and finance, you are regulated by FINRA or the FDIC, you are an attorney of physician that maintains a professional license, or the product you sell is “you,” an arrest in New York for a crime of fraud, deceit or theft is life altering in the most adverse way. Recently, a client arrested for stealing clothing from Bergdorf Goodmans in Manhattan faced such a embarrassing dilemma when she was accused of shoplifting gloves retailing for well north of $1,000.00. Technically a felony shoplift as a class “E” felony of Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30, our client was fortunate enough to receive a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for Petit Larceny, a class “A” misdemeanor. While the criminal complaint ultimately reflected Penal Law 155.25 and Penal Law 165.40, the latter offense is Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, the crimes our client faced technically involved felonies due to the value of the clothing our client was accused of shoplifting after our client exited the store without paying for the property.
Despite the magnitude of potential felony charges, the uncertainty of what might happen to our client’s otherwise pristine and clean record, the New York criminal defense attorneys and shoplifting defense lawyers at Crotty Saland PC delivered the best result possible for our client in this New York City shoplifting arrest. No, our client did not receive a Disorderly Conduct or ACD on the PL 155.25 and PL 165.40 arrest, but instead the case was both dismissed and sealed unconditionally.
Theft and larceny related arrests in New York involve crimes that not only have immediate impacts in terms of incarceration and criminal charges, but have the collateral consequence that complicate careers and jobs. For example, if you are an employee of New York City, your arrest whether by Desk Appearance Ticket or due to a felony allegation, will trigger a formal action on the part of the administration. What is of critical importance, and something that your criminal lawyer should stress to you, the ultimate outcome of your case. Yes, an arrest is bad, but a felony or misdemeanor conviction is worse. Far worse. Fortunately for a client of Crotty Saland PC, an arrest for Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30, resulted in a non criminal violation of Disorderly Conduct. Checking off the box of avoiding a criminal conviction, our client’s shoplifting arrest from Century 21 involving just shy of $2,000.00 in clothing will ultimately be sealed without any public record.
On of the more common misunderstandings of New York shoplifting law (there is not actual statute such as this, but it is a clear means to describe similar offenses), is that an accused must leave a store to be arrested and ultimately convicted for Petit Larceny, Grand Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. Irrespective of whether an offenses is a misdemeanor PL 155.25 or a felony PL 155.30, the evidence of the wrongful taking must be legally sufficient on a complaint and beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. While New York law is very clear that possession inconsistent with the rights of the property owner is a telling factor when determining if a shoplifting larceny occurred, the analysis is very fact specific and one which you and your criminal attorney or shoplifting lawyer must examine. That said, however, can a defendant successfully challenge an arrest in New York for Petit Larceny or Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property if a complaint fails to set forth facts that the accused walked past registers, checkout lines, etc., as part of his or her theft from a store? Will the failure by the prosecution to provide this information be fatal to the District Attorney’s case?
Maybe it was Sephora in Manhattan or Century 21 elsewhere in New York City. It actually makes no difference if its Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Whole Foods or some mom and pop store in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, White Plains, Yonkers or any other municipality in New York. The standard, some would argue, is ridiculously low. Heck, you may have put the makeup, sweater or food in your own bag because it was convenient or the store didn’t supply a cart (if being environmentally friend and not using plastics is a crime, then guilty as charged!). On its face it seems like a reasonable thing to do. The reaction of store security, however, was quite the opposite. Reasonable? Not at all. Aggressive, accusatory, intimidating? Absolutely. Being embarrassed and signing paperwork, however, may be the least of your worries. If it is alleged that you stole property – regardless of what it may be worth (if anything!) – expect that you will at a minimum be arrested and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT in NYC) for either Petit Larceny (PL 155.25) or Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (PL 165.40). To make matters worse, while the DAT for shoplifting may only reflect one of these charges, upon appearing in court you will have the “honor” of facing both misdemeanor crimes.
With a little lay of the land and a scenario that may very well fit into what you were alleged to have done, the question you likely are asking is, “Why was I arrested and why was I charged with a crime for shoplifting if I didn’t step foot out of the supermarket (fill in the store here)?!” Well, read on for your answer…
There are very strict and unforgiving laws in New York State. The New York Penal law, when addressing financial crimes, has dollar amount thresholds that upon their breach the crime is enhanced. What this means is that if you steal by any means property valued in excess of $1,000 is an “E” felony of Fourth Degree Grand Larceny (New York Penal Law 155.30). If that amount exceeds $3,000 then it is a “D” felony of Third Degree Grand Larceny (New York Penal Law 155.35). The next thresholds are at $50,000 and $1 million. There are corresponding offenses for Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (again, it is value based for the most part barring some exceptions so the nature of the property is irrelevant). Not only is there a concern for an accused that he or she can face incarceration in prison – up to four years on an “E” felony and seven years on a “D” felony – there are other concerns for professionals and foreign nationals. Even without stepping foot in a jail, a conviction can end a career or make a person inadmissible in the future. Potentially, for the latter group of individuals, the offense could be an Aggravated Felony. Due to all of these collateral and direct concerns with felony arrests, it is imperative to formulate a plan when accused of these or any crime and your exposure is great. Unfortunately, a scenario played out for a Crotty Saland PC client who was both a physician and a foreign national.
Fraud arrests are embarrassing. Theft arrests are compromising. Larceny arrests are stigmatizing. Felony arrests in New York? Those can land you in prison. Misdemeanors? By Desk Appearance Ticket or full processing in Central Booking, there is potential for incarceration too. Whether it is a shoplifting arrest or DAT for violating the Petit Larceny statute of New York Penal Law 155.25 or Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property Statute of New York Penal Law 165.40, a fake identification arrest for violating the Third Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument statute of New York Penal Law 170.20, a failure to pay a cab fare arrest for violating New York Penal Law 165.15, or any other crime involving Forgery, Falsifying Business Records, Theft of Services, Scheme to Defraud or Grand Larceny, if you are regulated through FINRA or FDIC, the ramifications can be a “game changer” to your career and livelihood. While you can potentially avoid reporting certain misdemeanor crimes on your Form U4, if you are charged with any felony (even if it is later reduced or resolved in a non-criminal manner) or convicted of the same, you will have to answer for your alleged actions. Even if the offense you are accused if is merely a misdemeanor (“merely” is a relative term as New York does not expunge criminal convictions for these crimes) and the offense involves fraud, forgery, wrongful taking of property or even false statements or omissions, you will be required to report the alleged infraction. This blog entry will not address the substance and definitions of the above crimes (that can be found throughout this blog and the CrottySaland.Com website), but reporting of these arrests and convictions on your U4 and consequences associated with FINRA regulations and those involving FDIC insured banks.
If there is such a “good” in crimes and prosecutions, arrests and accusations for shoplifting often result in the issuance of a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) in lieu of a person being processed through Central Booking. The “bad,” however, is that shoplifting arrests for the crimes of Petit Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.25, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, New York Penal Law 165.40, are so routine that prosecutors, judges and even many inexperienced criminal defense attorneys do not blink an eye when examining an accusatory information to determine its viability and sufficiency. That is not to say these people are lazy by any means, but fatigue of seeing the same boilerplate language leads to poor results. Fortunately for one defendant, the examination of the complaint against her led to a judge dismissing the charges of Petit Larceny after the court determined there was no nexus between her actions and that of an unapprehended other individual who attempted to leave the store with stolen property. This blog entry will address the court’s decision and look at the overall value and importance of the ruling in the realm of arrests for PL 155.25 and PL 165.40.