New York Penal Law: Shoplifting Charges

When you are given a Desk Appearance Ticket in New York or arrested for stealing property belonging to somebody else (it makes no difference if the theft is from an individual person or a department store such as Macys or Bloomingdales), value is a critical component of any theft or larceny charge. It is important to note that "value" may mean different things such as present value, replacement value, used value and new value. Before merely accepting the valuation determined by the police and the prosecution in New York City, you and your criminal shoplifting lawyer should review the evidence and deal with this issue where appropriate. After all, the computer you bought last year may have cost you well over $1,000, but a year later that value is not even close.

Shoplifting Thefts $1,000 or Less

If the value of the property is $1,000 or less, the likely charge will be Petit Larceny. A Class "A" misdemeanor, Petit Larceny, pursuant to New York Penal Law 155.25, is punishable by up to one year in jail. In New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens), that one year would be spent on the infamous Rikers Island. Similarly, in the event you are "only" arrested for possessing the property as opposed to the taking that property, if the value is $1,000 or less, then you would be charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree (New York Penal Law 165.40). Like Petit Larceny, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree is an "A" misdemeanor. It is imperative to note that while your shoplifting Desk Appearance Ticket may only charge one of these crimes, both crimes are routinely charged on the criminal court complaint against you.

Shoplifting Thefts in Excess of $1,000 or $3,000

If all of the property allegedly stolen is combined together and is worth more than $1,000 (the combining of values is called "aggregation" and is not always permissible - discuss this with your New York criminal lawyer), the likely charge will be felony Criminal Possession of Stolen Property or felony Grand Larceny. It is critical to not merely have competent legal counsel, but an experienced Grand Larceny, theft and shoplifting criminal lawyer in these circumstances. In these cases, the value of the property will determine the degree associated with the charge:

  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 155.30): If the value exceeds $1,000. A Class E felony punishable by up to four years in jail.
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 155.35): If the value exceeds $3,000. A Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail.

You might also be charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth or Third Degrees pursuant to New York Penal Law sections 165.45 and 165.50 respectively. This applies when someone takes keeps property from an owner or store with no intention of returning it. The sentencing guidelines for this charge are similar to those outlined above for Petit and Grand Larceny. In other words, the value of the property determines the maximum jail term.

Another potential charge is Burglary (New York Penal Law 140.20). This felony crime occurs if someone who has previously been caught shoplifting, and was told not to return to a particular store, went back to the store where the police arrested him or her. Even if he or she is not caught stealing, Burglary may be charged. Prosecutors could also pursue this charge if someone enters an area of a store that is marked as "off limits" and steals property from the store. Burglary is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison.

Our law firm serves clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Westchester County. Call us at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today to speak with our New York attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors about misdemeanor shoplifting crimes.

In depth information on shoplifting crimes, statutes and laws is located on Crotty Saland PC's New York Criminal Lawyer Blog and its shoplifting crime section.