New York Shoplifting from Target
Like most major retailers Target has a huge problem with shoplifting. Losses from shoplifting costs Target millions and millions of dollars each year. To try to reduce shoplifting losses Target uses several different loss prevention strategies, including employing security guards, using cameras, and entrance theft detection devices. If you were arrested for shoplifting at Target, you should contact an experienced New York Shoplifting from Target Lawyer who is familiar with Target's aggressive loss prevention strategies and who will aggressively defend you against shoplifting charges and any other charges that are brought against you.
Shoplifting is not a minor offense. It is a crime. If you are convicted of shoplifting, you will have a criminal record. Shoplifting is a type of larceny, and larceny is the legal term for stealing. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.05. Depending on the value of the property that you are suspected of shoplifting, you could be charged with petit larceny or grand larceny. If the property that you are accused of shoplifting has a value of less than $1,000 then you will be charged with petit larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.25. For Target shoplifting cases, petit larceny is usually the charge. However, if you are accused of shoplifting merchandise from Target that has a value of $1000 or more, then you will be charged with grand larceny. Petit larceny is a misdemeanor while grand larceny is a felony.
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In New York there is a concept known has the "shopkeepers privilege." This means that under certain conditions stores have the right to detain suspected shoplifters. If Target security has reason to believe that you have shoplifted, it can use reasonable means to detain you and conduct an investigation. It is reasonable for a Target security guard to believe you shoplifted if, for example, the security guard or other Target employee believes that he or she observed you place merchandise in your bag, purse, or pocket, or if you are observed attempting to leave the store with unpaid for merchandise. In detaining you, however, the Target security guard can only use reasonable force. If you do not cooperate when the security guard instructs you to go to the designated place where shoplifting investigations are conducted, the security guard can place you in handcuffs and use other reasonable force to escort you to the designated place. However, the security guards cannot use deadly force or excessive force such as choking you, beating you, or using offensive language such as racial slurs.
Once you are detained, the Target security guard may only keep you long enough to make a reasonable investigation, or for the police to arrive. The investigation may involve something as simple as asking you to show a receipt or asking the cashier if you paid. In other cases the investigation may be more involved. During the time that you are being detained, beware of Target security guards' efforts to try to convince you to confess. The security guard may make a series of statements that may or may not be true, but the security guard will try to make you believe that the statements are fact. For example, the security guard may tell you that if you confess, then the police will not be called. Or the security guard may tell you that there is videotape showing you concealing merchandise. You may even be told that the only way you will be allowed to leave is if you confess. You should not sign a written confession regardless of what you are told by Target's security guards. Another tactic that Target uses is to try to get you to sign an agreement to not return to any Target store for a specified period of time. In fact, in some cases whether it is proven that you have shoplifted or not, Target will tell you that you are not permitted on Target premises for a specified period time, usually at least a year. If you are caught on Target property, Target could have you arrested and charged with trespassing.
If Target decides to call the police, it must not unreasonably delay in calling them. Once the police arrive, you will probably be charged with either petit larceny or grand larceny. You will either be lead out of the store in handcuffs and taken to jail, or you will be given a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT). Police do not always issues DATs in shoplifting cases. However, if the property you were suspected of shoplifting has a low value, if you have proper identification and if you do not have a criminal record, then the police officer is likely to issue a DAT. The advantage of DAT is that you will not be immediately taken into custody. Instead you will be issued a ticket that will state the criminal charge and when you must appear in court. Should you not appear at the stated date and time, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest. Even if your DAT states that you are being charged with petit larceny, once you are in court, the charges may be different. The prosecutor will have had a chance to review the facts of your case and may decide that you should be charged with grand larceny, or that in addition to being charged with petit larceny, you would also be charged with criminal possession of stolen property in either the fifth degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 165.45.
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. Your sentence will depend on a number of factors including whether or not you have a prior criminal record. If you are convicted of more than one crime, you will receive a more severe sentence.
Target is aggressive about stopping shoplifting in its stores. This does not mean that Target security guards are always correct when they suspect someone of shoplifting. If you are convicted of shoplifting the rest of your life will be impacted and so will the lives of your loved ones. 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 Target 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 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.