New York Shoplifting from JC Penney

Popular retailers such as JC Penney have serious problems with shoplifters. The problem is so serious that each year millions and millions of dollars worth of merchandise is shoplifted from JC Penney stores and other retailers in New York and across the country. As a result, JC Penney's devotes a considerable amount of its resources to loss prevention. Part of JC Penney's loss prevention strategy is to hire security guards to spot and detain suspected shoplifters. However, at times JC Penney security guards are a little too eager to apprehend shoplifters, and as a result they sometimes make unwarranted shoplifting accusations against customers. If you were arrested for shoplifting at JC Penney, you should contact an experienced New York Shoplifting from JC Penney Lawyer who is familiar with how JC Penney treats those suspected of shoplifting and who will aggressively defend you throughout each phase of your case.

Like any New York retail store, JC Penney security guards may lawfully detain you if they have reason to suspect that you have shoplifted. If a security guard sees you putting unpaid for merchandise in your pocket, for example, that would be enough for a security guard to detain you. Or if you are observed switching price tags on merchandise and then paying a lower price for the merchandise, the store will have reason to detain you. However, it is not appropriate for JC Penney security guards to stop and detain you based solely on your race, ethnicity, or nationality.

If you are detained as a suspected shoplifter at JC Penney, one of the first things that will happen after you are taken to a back room is that the security guards will likely try to persuade you to admit that you shoplifted. They may ask you to sign a document in which you confess to shoplifting and tell you that if you sign the confession they will let you leave without being arrested. The JC Penney security guards may also try to convince you that they have videotape showing you taking merchandise in an effort to get you to sign a confession. Another favorite tactic of security guards is used in cases when a group is suspected of shoplifting. The security guards will typically separate members of the group and tell each person individually that the others have already confessed. This is another way to try to get signed confessions. What the security guards tell you may or may not be true. Regardless, you should not confess.

JC Penney security guards may also become overzealous in their attempt to detain you. While security guards may detain you if they have reason to suspect that you shoplifted, they may only do so in an unreasonable manner. For example, the security guard may not detain you for an unreasonably long time. A security guard can detain you long enough to conduct an investigation of the incident. This should not take long. 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 it, the security guard is not permitted to use excessive force such as choking or beating you. It is also inappropriate for the security guards to use offensive language such as racial slurs or foul language. The security guards may also subject you to a pat down search to see if you have any weapons.

Even if JC Penney suspects that you shoplifted, the security guards may not necessarily call the police. Sometimes the security guards will let you go. This does not automatically mean that the case is closed. JC Penney security guards may still have concluded that you have shoplifted, and you may receive a letter from JC Penney a few days later demanding that you not only pay restitution for the merchandise that you are accused of shoplifting, but also demand that you pay 5 times the value of that merchandise as permitted by New York law. N.Y. GOB. LAW § 11-105.

If JC Penney does call the police, you may be immediately arrested and taken into custody. Or, instead the police may issue a Desk Appearance ticket (DAT). When you receive a DAT, you are given a court date and are permitted to go home. If you fail to appear at the stated date and time, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Typically the police issue DATs to shoplifting suspects who have proper ID, do not have criminal records, and where the value of the property is relatively low. At your court date you will be formally charged with petit larceny or grand larceny. You may also be charged with additional crimes such as criminal possession of stolen property. You will then be told the date and time of your next hearing.

The charge you will face for shoplifting will be petit larceny if the value of the property you are accused of shoplifting is less than $1,000, a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.25. On the other hand, if the property you are accused of shoplifting has a value of more than $1,000, then you will face a charge of grand larceny, which is a Class E felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30. 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 or criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree. N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 165.40, 165.45. While individually each of these charges carries sentences ranging from fines to up to 4 years in prison, with each additional charge you are more likely to be sentenced to jail or prison.

Being charged with larceny due to shoplifting from JC Penney is serious. If you are convicted of petit larceny or grand larceny, you could end up in prison for up to 4 years, plus face probation, fines and restitution. However, there may be defenses to a petit larceny charge that an experienced attorney may be able to use to get the charges reduced or even dismissed. 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, burglary, robbery, criminal possession of stolen property, credit card fraud, 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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