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New York Shoplifting from Sephora

Sephora opened its first New York store in 1998 and has quickly become a popular retailer of cosmetics with billions of dollars in sales each year. Such popularity has also caused Sephora to become a frequent target of shoplifters, causing it to lose millions of dollars in merchandise each year. Sephora and other retailers use several different loss prevention methods to try to catch suspected shoplifters. Such methods include cameras hidden in store ceilings, sensor tags on merchandise, uniformed security guards, and plain clothes security guards. If you were arrested for shoplifting at Sephora, you should contact an experienced New York Shoplifting from Sephora Lawyer who understands the strategies that Sephora uses to identify and detain suspected shoplifters and who will support and defend you throughout the criminal process.

Under the New York Penal Code shoplifting is classified as a type of larceny. Larceny means stealing. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.05. In other words, larceny is a crime. If you are convicted of larceny, you will have a criminal record. Depending on the value of the merchandise that you are suspected of shoplifting, you could be charged with petit larceny or grand larceny. If the property has a value of less than $1,000 then you will be charged with petit larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.25. Another significant difference between petit larceny and grand larceny is that petit larceny is a misdemeanor while grand larceny is a felony. If you are convicted of grand larceny the possible sentence will be more severe than the possible sentence of a petit larceny conviction.

Sephora, like all New York retailers, enjoys the "shopkeepers privilege." This means that if Sephora has reason to believe that you have shoplifted, it has the right to detain you. In detaining you, however, Sephora security guards must be reasonable. This means that Sephora can only detain you if they have a good reason to think you shoplifted. For example, if a Sephora security guard spotted you slip a lipstick into your jacket pocket, then Sephora could legally detain you. However, if Sephora retains you for another reasons such as your race or ethnicity, then Sephora's action would not be reasonable.

In detaining you, Sephora security guards can only use reasonable force. They cannot beat you, choke you, misuse handcuffs on you, or use any other type of excessive physical force in attempting to detain you. Excessive force can also mean verbal abuse such as threatening you, using foul language or using racial slurs. Security guards may handcuff you if it is warranted and can pat you down to determine if you have a weapon.

Once you are detained, Sephora can only hold you long enough to investigate the incident. The goal of the investigation should be to determine if you shoplifted or not. However, oftentimes the goal of the investigation turns into trying to convince you to confess to shoplifting whether you did so or not. Sephora security guards will try to convince you to sign a written confession by telling you that there is videotape showing you concealing merchandise. They may tell you that the only way you will be allowed to leave is if you confess. If you were with friends who were also detained, Sephora security may separate you from your friends and claim that your friends already confessed. They may even tell you that if you confess you will not be arrested. Often what Sephora security guards tell you is not true. However, even if it is, you should refrain from signing a confession and refrain from signing a statement in which you agree to stay out of Sephora stores for a period of time.

In some cases Sephora will let you go and require you to pay for the shoplifted items plus a "loss prevention fee." In other cases Sephora will call the police so that you will be arrested. The police will either take you into custody or issue you a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT). The DAT is a summons to appear in New York Criminal Court at a specified day, time and place. The DAT clearly states that the consequences of failing to appear is that a warrant will be issued for your arrest. The DAT will state the charge. In the case of shoplifting the charge will likely be petit larceny. Once you appear in court, however, you may learn that the prosecutor decided to add one or more additional charges such as criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 165.40

The penalties for a larceny conviction or a criminal possession of stolen property conviction can be significant. Both petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree are Class A misdemeanors. The penalties range from fines to up to a year in jail. The penalties for a conviction of grand larceny in the fourth degree or criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, both Class E felonies, range from fines to up to 4 years in prison. You sentence will depend on a number of factors including whether or not you have a prior criminal record. However, depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history, the prosecutor may agree to a plea bargain, to reduce the charges, or to dismiss you case altogether.

Like most retailers, large or small, Sephora is committed to stopping shoplifting in its stores. This causes Sephora security guards to sometimes be over zealous in trying to apprehend suspected shoplifters and as a result the security guards sometimes get it wrong. If you are convicted of shoplifting the rest of your life will be impacted. You could end up in jail and be subject to fines. You will have a criminal record that may cause you to lose your job, or may make it difficult to find a new job. Thus, it is important to have experienced representation throughout your case to ensure the best possible result given the facts of your case. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who are accused of shoplifting from Sephora as well as other retail establishments. In addition, we have also successfully represented clients charged with other crimes of theft such as burglary, robbery, and credit card fraud. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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