When many people think about the act of shoplifting, visions of adolescents stealing candy from a gas station may come to mind. In reality, however, shoplifting is a much more serious and costly crime. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, during 2014 alone, shoplifting accounted for monetary losses within the retail industry of roughly $12,160,000,000.
Under New York penal law, the crime of shoplifting is referred to as petit larceny and is classified as a class A misdemeanor. The criminal penalties associated with shoplifting are directly tied to the severity of the crime which is often determined by the costs of the items involved. A shoplifting conviction, therefore, can result in an individual being forced to serve time in jail, pay hefty fines, serve probation, perform community service and/or attend counseling.
Depending on an individual's age and future plans, a shoplifting conviction can have far-reaching and often unexpected repercussions. For example, a college student or college-bound high school senior may encounter difficulty securing financial aid funding. Additionally, having a record with any criminal conviction can adversely affect an individual's employment opportunities as well as his or her ability to secure housing.
Given the potential serious consequences, individuals who are facing shoplifting charges are advised to seek the advice and assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Shoplifting involves "the taking or concealment of items being offered for sale." An individual, may, therefore, be arrested for and charged with shoplifting even if he or she never actually left a store. For example, activities that involve the concealment of merchandise, altering an item's price and placing an item inside another container to avoid paying for it may all result in shoplifting charges.
There are several possible defenses to shoplifting charges and an attorney will work to thoroughly investigate the facts of a case to determine the best defenses and legal strategy.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Shoplifting," Feb. 22, 2016
FindLaw.com, "Theft defenses," Feb. 22, 2016