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What Are the Consequences for Shoplifting in New York?

In New York, shoplifting is categorized as a misdemeanor and results in strict consequences, both within the punitive aspects of the legal system and without. If you’ve ever been charged with shoplifting, understanding how the fallout can affect the result of your life is important.

Please read this article, as it will explain how shoplifting is defined in New York and the various ways shoplifting is penalized. This will help you be informed about the landscape in New York regarding shoplifting. For more personalized help in your specific case, place a call to a New City shoplifting attorney and we will get to work right away.

What Is Shoplifting in New York and How Is it Penalized?

In New York, shoplifting is petit theft or petty theft. New York Penal Law § 155.25 indicates that someone is guilty of petit larceny if they commit a theft of property worth $1,000 or less. This definition applies to most situations in which someone shoplifts in New York.

Petit larceny or shoplifting like the above is a class A misdemeanor, meaning that you may have to pay $1,000 or less in fines, spend up to a year in prison, as well as be subject to probation and further restrictions on your freedom.

But beyond criminal charges alone, shoplifting convictions also bring the possibility of civil charges on the part of the store from which the accused stole. Stores can seek civil damages from a shoplifter in the amount of the value of the property taken in addition to monetary penalties and attorney fees.

But beyond the legal process for that specific instance of theft, and due to an at best overzealous and at worst brutal approach to justice, shoplifting charges often touch multiple aspects of a defendant’s life. For example, convictions can also have an impact on a person’s immigration status. Not only that, but because a shoplifting conviction goes on your criminal record, that conviction can complicate any number of life matters where you are required to fill out an application that asks if you have a criminal record. Renting an apartment, getting a job, and qualifying for financial aid can all become exponentially more difficult. Landlords, employers, and financial institutions nowadays demand background checks.

Furthermore, because New York law doesn’t let shoplifting convictions be expunged, the conviction will continue to make life more difficult for the accused long after they have served the penalty imposed by the court. These kinds of extensive punishments that interfere with an accused individual truly getting back on their feet are today the subject of much debate. Many commentators consider the excessively punitive nature of these to be rooted in a longer history of racism in the United States, beyond any useful impact in reducing crime.

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