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Potential Secondary Punishment & Consequences for Shoplifting Arrests in New York: Censure & Disbarment for Lawyers & Attorneys

A New York shoplifting arrest, whether it be in violation of New York Penal Law 155.25, New York Penal Law 155.30, New York Penal Law 165.40 or New York Penal Law 165.45, is an extremely serious crime with enormous secondary and collateral consequences. Believing otherwise is both naive and foolish. An arrest for Petit Larceny, Grand Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property will not automatically land you in jail or result in a criminal record, but for professionals – lawyers, teachers, doctors, financial services employees and others – there are very real and significant issues in terms of careers and livelihood. Remember, while each case, arrest and allegation for a larceny or theft crime may share similarities with others, each offense and person accused is distinct and separate. The following case is worth reading to understand what can happen to you upon the close of your case and to identify issues that you should discuss with your New York shoplifting lawyer or theft attorney from the onset of your criminal allegation.

In Matter of Gallagher, M-472, NYLJ 1202558663857, at *1 (App. Div. 1st, Decided June 7, 2012), Mr. Gallagher, the respondent, appeared before the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in reference to his law license and privilege to practice law in the State of New York. Prior to the disciplinary hearing, the respondent (a defendant at that time) faced a felony complaint charging him with two violations of Fourth Degree Grand Larceny (New York Penal Law 155.30(1) for shoplifting property from Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan. The property was valued at $2,500. NY PL 155.30, Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, is committed if and when property is stolen – whether from a bank account or a store – valued between over $1,000 and $3,000.

Despite this initial arrest charge of Grand Larceny, the respondent pleaded to Petit Larceny. Petit Larceny, an “A” misdemeanor pursuant to New York Penal Law 155.25, involves thefts regardless of property value. It is a lesser plea than the felony crime of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, but a crime nonetheless. As part of the plea deal, the prosecution required that the respondent / defendant continue weekly psychotherapy treatment for one year.

Although the case against the respondent was dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor, the Court deemed this Petit Larceny conviction to be a “serious crime.” As such, the respondent faced a sanction hearing with the Departmental Disciplinary Committee.

Unfortunately for the respondent, this conviction was not his first brush with the criminal justice system and he admitted to eight acts of shoplifting in his adulthood. These matters appeared to have been resolved with an ACD (an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal whereby the case is dismissed and sealed after six months) and the violation of Disorderly Conduct pursuant to New York Penal Law 240.20.

Despite many character letters and testimony from a psychotherapist who addressed mental health issues in connection to the shoplifting, the respondent faced significant problems in maintaining his law license. Ultimately, due to all of the convictions and arrests – both criminal and noncriminal – the respondent “received an Admonition from the Committee in August 2011 for engaging in illegal conduct that adversely reflected on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer, in violation of Rule 8.4(b), and for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, in violation of Rule 8.4[c].” Further, after the hearing, the Hearing Panel unanimously recommended that respondent be publicly censured.

Despite the respondent arguing mitigating circumstances, the Committee confirmed theses recommendations and stated as follows:

“While we find that respondent’s candor with the Hearing Panel, his attempt to deal with his problem which he labels a ‘compulsion’, and his otherwise unblemished record constitute mitigating factors, respondent’s inability to control the compulsion, as indicated by the repeat offenses, is an aggravating factor. Respondent’s case is not unlike those matters in other Departments in which attorneys were censured for shoplifting related offenses and for which the sanction of a public censure was imposed.”

To learn more about the New York theft and shoplifting crimes of Petit Larceny, Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, follow the hyperlinks throughout this blog entry or review the websites and blogs below where you will find content rich information on these crimes, legal decisions and cases in the news. Further materials on the collateral consequences of shoplifting arrests and convictions are available as well.

Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys. The New York Grand Larceny defense attorneys and New York Stolen Property lawyers at Saland Law PC represent those accused of and arrested for theft and fraud crimes throughout the New York City area.

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