Five Things to Know About Shoplifting Crimes and Defenses

Many people in the Rochester area assume that shoplifting is a relatively minor offense and that it will be easy to defend against charges or to deal with them if they happen, especially to a minor. Yet it is essential to understand that shoplifting is a serious offense, and it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in New York depending upon the value of the property that is alleged to have been stolen. If you or your child are facing criminal charges for larceny related to shoplifting allegations, you need to seek advice from an experienced Rochester criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to find out more about your options for fighting these charges. In the meantime, the following are five things you should know about shoplifting crimes and defenses in Upstate New York.

1. Shoplifting Can Fall Under Various Levels of Larceny and Is Not a Separate Offense

Shoplifting is generally understood to mean, according to the Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII), “the willful theft of merchandise from a retail establishment without the knowledge or consent of the seller with the intention of converting those goods for one’s personal use and without having paid the purchase price.” Under New York law, shoplifting will be charged as larceny, and there are various levels of larceny that may be applicable depending upon the specific facts of the case.

Larceny that involves shoplifting can refer to taking something from a store without paying for it, or changing the price on a retail good in order to pay less for it than the listed price.

2. Value of the Merchandise Will Affect the Severity of the Charges

The value of the merchandise alleged to have been stolen will affect the severity of the charges and the type of larceny that is charged. Shoplifting can be charged as petit larceny when the value of the merchandise stolen is $1,000 or less, or grand larceny in the fourth, third, second, or first degree based on the value alone.

3. Shoplifting Can Be Charged as Misdemeanor or Felony Offense

You can face misdemeanor or felony charges for shoplifting. If you are charged with petit larceny where the value of the merchandise is $1,000 or less, you will face class A misdemeanor charges. Shoplifting property valued at more than $1,000 will result in felony charges.

4. You Can Face Jail Time and Monetary Fines for Shoplifting

Even petit larceny charges can result in a sentence of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For grand larceny in the fourth degree, which involves stealing merchandise worth more than $1,000 and up to $3,000, you will face class E felony charges that can result in up to four years in prison. Higher value property will result in more serious felony charges and can ultimately result in up to 25 years in prison if the value is $1 million or more.

5. Multiple Defense Strategies May Exist for Shoplifting Crimes

Multiple defenses may be available to you. Some of the most common defenses for shoplifting include that you believed you had paid for the property (i.e., that you made a mistake) or that you believed the property belonged to you.

Contact a Rochester Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Do you need assistance defending against larceny charges you are facing for shoplifting? One of our experienced Rochester theft defense attorneys can speak with you today about your circumstances, and we can begin working with you on a defense strategy. Contact King Law to learn more about our services.


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