New York Shoplifting from Century 21

Shoplifting is a type of theft where merchandise is stolen from a retail store. Under the New York Penal Code shoplifting is classified as a type of larceny, typically petit larceny. It is the charge most often applied in cases of shoplifting. Shoplifting is a significant problem for New York retailers such as Century 21. In order to decrease the amount of merchandise lost to shoplifters, Century 21 hires security guards to stop suspected shoplifters. However, in their zeal to identify shoplifters, Century 21 security guards sometimes employ questionable tactics that can lead to criminal charges that are not always warranted. If you were arrested for shoplifting at Century 21, you should contact an experienced New York Shoplifting from Century 21 Lawyer who is familiar with Century 21's tactics for apprehending suspected shoplifters and who will aggressively defend you against Century 21's claims that you shoplifted.

A Century 21 security guard may detain you if he or she has reason to suspect that you have shoplifted. For example, if the guard observes you place merchandise in your pocket, purse or shopping bag and leave the store without paying for it, the guard can detain you. If the security guard observes you change the price tag on merchandise and pay the lower price, the security guard can detain you.

If you are detained as a suspected shoplifter at Century 21, the security guard will try to convince you to quickly confess. He or she will tell you things that may or may not be true. For example, the security guard may tell you that they will detain you until you sign a confession, or that they will not call the police if you sign a confession and agree not return to Century 21 for several years. The security guard may also tell you that the store has videotape that shows you shoplifting. If you were with a friend, the security guard may tell you that your friend already confessed and that you too should confess. Regardless of what the security guard tells you, the best course of action is for you to refrain from verbally confessing , writing a confession, or signing a confession.

Century 21 security guards may also become overzealous in attempting to detain you. While security guards may detain you if they have reason to suspect that you shoplifted, they may only do so in a reasonable manner. However, Century 21 security guards as well as security guards at other retailers can be unreasonable. For example, the security guard may detain you for an unreasonably long time. A security guard can detain you long enough to conduct an investigation of the incident. The security guard may also detain you while waiting for the police to arrive. However, the security guard cannot delay calling the police without good reason. While the security guard may place you in handcuffs if the situation warrants doing so, he or she is not permitted to use excessive force. Excessive force includes misusing handcuffs, choking, beating, and using offensive language such as racial slurs or foul language.

A Century 21 security guard can lawfully request that you show identification and submit to a pat down search in order to determine if you have a weapon. You should cooperate with these requests. However, you are not required to sign a confession or sign a document stating that you will never return to the store. Instead, you should calmly wait for the security guard to let you leave or wait for the police to arrive. If you are arrested, request your attorney.

If Century 21 accuses you of shoplifting the store may not necessarily contact the police. Instead the store may simply copy your identification and confirm your address. A few days later you may get a letter from Century 21 demanding that you pay five times the value of the property you are accused of stealing. This remedy is available under New York's law related to larceny in mercantile establishments. N.Y. GOB. LAW § 11-105. In other cases Century 21 will detain you and contact the police.

The police may arrest you and take you into custody. Or, the police may decide to issue a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT). The general criteria for issuing a DAT is for the suspect to have valid ID, for the suspect not to have a criminal record, and for the current charge to be relatively minor such as a misdemeanor. When you receive a DAT, you are not immediately taken into custody. Instead you are given a court date. If you fail to appear at the stated date and time, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. At your hearing you will be formally charged. For shoplifting the charge may be petit larceny or grand larceny. In addition the prosecutor may also choose to charge you with criminal possession of stolen property. You will then be told the date and time of your next hearing.

There are two general types of larceny defined in the New York Penal Code: petit larceny and grand larceny. If the property that you are accused of stealing has a value that is less than $1,000, the crime is called petit larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.25. Petit larceny is a misdemeanor. On the other hand, if the property has a value of more than $1,000, then the crime is grand larceny, which is a felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30. While in the case of shoplifting thefts from Century 21 petit larceny is typically the charge, if the property stolen is jewelry, a handbag or some other item that is valued over $1,000, you may face a felony grand larceny charge.

If you are charged with larceny based on shoplifting, the prosecutor could decide to charge you with an additional crime such as criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 165.40. And if the value of the property exceeds $1,000, you may be charged with both grand larceny in the fourth degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree. N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 155.30, 165.45. While individually each of these charges carries sentences ranging from fines to up to 4 years in prison, with each additional charge the likelihood of spending time in jail or prison increases.

Because of the possible repercussions of a shoplifting conviction, if a Century 21 security guard accuses you of shoplifting it is critical to take it seriously and immediately seek legal guidance. In fact, there may be defenses to your shoplifting charge that an experienced attorney may be able to use to get the charges reduced or even dropped. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who are accused of shoplifting, petit larceny, grand larceny, as well as other types of crimes. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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