Allegations involving shoplifting are among the most common criminal cases heard in Manhattan courts. Under state law, there is not a specific charge for shoplifting. As a result, you may be facing charges under the larger umbrella of theft, even if you never removed items from the store.
Shoplifting charges can be complex. It is essential to fully understand the state’s theft laws and to obtain as much information possible about what the prosecutor intends to introduce as evidence in court.
A Manhattan shoplifting lawyer could take the lead in this process. A dedicated theft attorney could work with you to understand the reason for the arrest and the possible consequences of a conviction. They could then work towards a plea bargain with the prosecutor or prepare to present a defense at trial.
Shoplifting is a Form of Theft Under State Law
There is no statute in the state’s criminal code that describes the concept that people commonly associate with shoplifting. Instead, people facing arrest and prosecution for allegedly stealing from a store will see that their case moves forward under the state’s theft statute.
Under Kansas Statute § 21-5801, theft involves the taking of property with the intent of depriving the owner of the use or the item, and taking property from a store without paying falls under this definition. In addition, other acts that a person could take while still in the store could violate this statute.
For example, concealing an item under a coat constitutes a substantial step towards stealing that item. Whether or not this is sufficient to justify a conviction for theft is a question for a jury. A Manhattan shoplifting attorney could help to raise questions concerning reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors during theft trials.
Shoplifting Convictions Can Have Serious Consequences
Shoplifting has the reputation of being a minor, annoyance criminal charge that affects only teenagers. However, individuals facing these charges need to be aware that prosecutors have the full authority to pursue maximum penalties that can include the payment of heavy fines, returning the value of the items involved to the store, and even jail sentences.
In most cases, shoplifting is a class A misdemeanor. This applies when the value of the items involved is less than $1,500. Here, a conviction is likely to result in a sentence of probation and the payment of a fine. However, prosecutors can seek a jail sentence of up to one year.
Shoplifting becomes even more serious when the value of the items increases. If the items have a value of between $1,500 and $25,000, the law counts the offense as a level 9 felony. This means that a court must impose a minimum prison sentence of five months. An experienced attorney could help to develop defense strategies that aim to limit potential penalties or even secure an acquittal in a Manhattan shoplifting case.
Reach Out to a Manhattan Shoplifting Attorney Today
Allegations involving the theft of items from stores can change your life. Convictions will appear on your criminal record, even if you agree to a suspended sentence or a diversionary program. Convictions also authorize a court to impose a jail sentence, even if it is a first offense and the item was worth only a few dollars.
A Manhattan shoplifting lawyer could help you avoid this outcome. A dedicated attorney could work to determine the reason for the arrest, examining witness statements, security camera footage, and other evidence to discover holes in the prosecution’s case. Call today to get started.