New York Shoplifting from Macy's
Major retailers such as Macy's have problems with shoplifters. Millions of dollars worth of merchandise is stolen from Macy's stores each year. As a result, Macy's invests a significant amount of money to loss prevention. Part of Macy's loss prevention strategy is to employ security guards. However, at times Macy's security guards are a little too eager to apprehend shoplifters. As a result Macy's security guards sometimes make unwarranted shoplifting accusations against customers. If you were arrested for shoplifting at Macy's, you should contact an experienced New York Shoplifting from Macy's Lawyer who is familiar with how Macy's treats those suspected of shoplifting and who will aggressively defend you from the time you are arrested to the resolution of the case.
Like any New York retail store, Macy's security guards may lawfully detain you if they have reason to suspect that you have shoplifted. If a security guard sees you placing merchandise in your handbag, 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 proper for Macy's security guards to detain you based solely on racial or ethnic profiling.
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If you are detained as a suspected shoplifter at Macys, 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 say that if you sign it they will let you leave without being arrested. The Macy's security guards may also try to lead you to believe 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 when a group of 2 or more are suspected of shoplifting and are detained. The security guards will typically separate members of the group of friends and tell each person individually that the others have already confessed. This is another way to try to get signed confessions. What the Macy's security guards tell you may or may not be true. Regardless of what the Macy's security guards tell you, the best course of action is for you to refrain from verbally confessing, writing a confession, or from signing a confession.
Macy's 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 a reasonable manner. However, Macy's security guards as well as security guards at other retailers can be quite 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. Macy's is known for holding suspected shoplifters for hours. In fact, Macy's Herald Square actually has what some describe as "prison cells" where suspected shoplifters are locked up for extended periods of time. While the security guard may place you in handcuffs if the situation warrants it, the security guard 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.
When detaining you as a shoplifting suspect, the security guard is allowed to ask you for identification and to submit to a pat down search in order to determine if you have a weapon. While it is appropriate to show ID and submit to a pat down search, you are not obligated to sign a confession or sign a document stating that you will never return to the store. The better course of action is to wait to be released or wait for the police to arrive. If the police arrive and you are arrested, it is wise not to say anything other than requesting your attorney.
Even if Macy's suspects that you shoplifted, the security guards may not call the police. Instead they may detain you for a while, conduct an investigation, and ultimately release you. This does not necessarily mean that you are off the hook. Macy's security guards may still have concluded that you have shoplifted. You may receive a letter from Macy's 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 Macy's does call the police, the police has the option of either arresting and immediately taking you into custody, or issuing you a Desk Appearance ticket (DAT). When you receive a DAT, you are not immediately taken into custody, but are given a court date. 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 a DAT 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 shoplifting from Macy's is serious. In addition to possibly facing questionable treatment while detained by Macy's security guards, if you are convicted of petit larceny or grand larceny, you could end up in jail or prison for 4 years. 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.