Shoplifting is made to look like a minor issue on television and in movies. Security guards often call spouses or parents, simply seeking payment for the items involved. In the real world, those accused of shoplifting could face very serious criminal charges. Perhaps a display item fell into a pocket or something costly was underneath your cart during checkout. It only takes a second to end up in legal trouble because of an honest mistake.
The seriousness of the penalties and criminal charges you may face for shoplifting depend on the value of the items involved. Whether someone alleges that you tried to take items from a store, or you successfully removed them, it’s possible to end up facing a felony larceny charge. Don’t assume you can pay your way out of the situation. You need to understand New York larceny laws and the potential consequences.
Item value determines the level of the offense
In New York, the law is very clear about the financial cutoff between petit (or petty) larceny and grand larceny. Petty larceny is the theft or attempted theft of goods with a value of under $1,000. It’s a Class A misdemeanor, which carries as much as a year in jail if you get convicted.
Anything worth $1,000 or more will result in felony grand larceny charges. It’s surprisingly simple for someone to accidentally end up with grand larceny criminal charges.
You could try on a watch and forget to take it off. Your kid may have grabbed a stack of expensive video games and hidden them under a coat when you weren’t looking. You may simply have put a pricey impulse purchase on the rack under your cart and forgot it was there when you tried to exit the store.
The consequences of felony grand larceny charges could include several years in prison, depending on the degree of the charge. The courts determine the degree of the grand larceny charge by the value of the items involved.
Shoplifting criminal records can devastate your future
Very few people trust a thief, even if they were only convicted of shoplifting. Pleading guilty may seem like a way to reduce potential penalties and get the whole situation handled without any more embarrassment.
However, a guilty plea will result in a conviction on your criminal record. Grand larceny charges can impact your current job, your potential for promotions and better jobs in the future and even your ability to secure rental housing.
If you avoid any incarceration, you could still end up losing your job. Many employers have no tolerance policies for felony criminal convictions. Other positions may require “public trust,” which means that a serious criminal offense makes you unfit for the position.
You could end up struggling to find work or stagnating in a mediocre position because of your criminal record. Taking a proactive approach to larceny charges is often the best option for those facing them.