A shoplifting arrest, even one initiated by a desk appearance ticket, can have serious consequences for non-citizens. This is because a shoplifting case is usually made up of two charges, Petit Larceny under P.L. 155.25 and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property under P.L. 165.40. Petit larceny is considered a crime of moral turpitude (CIMT) because, in part, the intent of the offender is an element of the crime (i.e. “intent” or “knowledge”). Petit larceny requires an "intent" to steal but even possession of stolen property is a crime of moral turpitude because is involves guilty knowledge, or the knowledge that a particular item is stolen.
Non-citizens may be removable (deported) or inadmissible upon conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Additionally, shoplifting may be classified as an aggravated felony as a "theft offense" under the Immigration and Nationality Act [See INA 101(a)(43), 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)]. This is even though the shoplifting charge may only a misdemeanor (if charged under 155.25 or 165.40). This is because certain state-level misdemeanors can qualify as an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Even if you have a green-card, conviction in a shoplifting case may lead to removal proceedings especially within the first 5 years of permanent residence. In every case, an accused shoplifter is innocent until and unless proven guilty and a unique opportunity exists to mount a successful defense. A successful defense could dramatically reduce the risk of immigration consequences and international travel consequences while avoiding a criminal record and other consequences. Preparing a defense tailored to the specific needs of a case is the best way to achieve the best result.
Source: Immigration and Nationality Act