Do you need an attorney if you have been arrested for shoplifting in New York City? Do I need legal counsel for an arrest at the Palisades Mall or The Westchester charging me with shoplifting in Rockland County or Westchester County respectively? The short answer is an easy one. Yes. The bigger question about why you should retain a criminal defense lawyer deserves more scrutiny. That is, are you charged with misdemeanor Petit Larceny, PL 155.25, or a felony offense relating to either Fourth or Third Degree Grand Larceny, PL 155.30 and PL 155.35 respectively? Arrest aside, what are the consequences to your career? Are you a teacher or other professional employed by the NYC Department of Education, a broker-dealer regulated by FINRA and required to fill to report your arrest on a U4, or a foreign student with issues associated with your visa? Simply, while the arrest itself may, or may not be, manageable, when deciding whether to hire a legal advocate there are many things to consider well beyond what will happen in a courtroom.
No matter if you are charged with a shoplifting crime in the City of New York or the Hudson Valley, the crime itself is the same, meaning the value of the property you are accused of taking will dictate the crime you face when arraigned before a judge. If it is $1,000.00 or less, then the offense is Petit Larceny. If the value exceeds $1,000.00 or $3,000.00 respectively, then the crime is either Fourth Degree Grand Larceny or Third Degree Grand Larceny. No, you are not getting tossed into prison for years to come but technically you face up to one year on the misdemeanor and four and seven years on the respective felonies.
So, if its not likely you’re going to jail or prison as a first time shoplifter, then why do you need legal representation? No jail equals no worries, right? Obviously, after reading the above, there is plenty to be concerned about. How will an arrest or, even worse, a conviction, impact you long term? What will a future employer ask about in terms of past criminal history? What will you have to disclose? What will be publicly available? Who will help you navigate not only New York’s criminal justice system but answer these questions in one, three or seven years down the road?
Outside of employment and schooling, is a conviction for either Petite Larceny or Grand Larceny considered a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude for immigration purposes? What will happen to your legal status whether you are a permanent resident, Green Card Holder, or a recipient of an H-1B visa, F-1 visa, K-1 visa or some other permit?
There are countless moving pieces associated with arrests in New York regardless of the crime. Before even reaching the point of punishment you must take the steps to preserve evidence, identify the right defense and implement the strategies to either confront the accusation head on best ensure your innocence or mitigate and minimize your conduct to reduce your criminal exposure as much as possible. No arrest is trivial. No criminal accusation small. But with the right defense, what is likely a horrifying and humiliating experience can one day become nothing more than distant memory. Don’t let the wrong defense change that otherwise workable trajectory.
Crotty Saland PC represents clients accused of shoplifting in New York City and the counties of the Hudson Valley from Westchester and Rockland to Putnam and Dutchess. Both founding members of the criminal defense firm served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.