Shoplifting FAQs

Presented by a New York City Shoplifting Attorney

Do I need a lawyer with me in court?

Yes. An arrest for shoplifting signals the start of a criminal prosecution and you will need legal representation.

I'm in the US on a Visa. Will this arrest have immigration consequences?

It depends. The intersection of criminal law and immigration law can be very complex but we have represented numerous individuals with varying degrees of status. Lance Fletcher is a member of the American Immigration Lawyer's Association and can handle basic immigration issues. For more complex immigration issues, Kevin Jones (of-counsel) is available for a consultation regarding the effects of your arrest.

Can I get my records expunged?

It depends. If you are able to obtain a qualifying outcome in court, you may be able to get your fingerprints, photograph destroyed and your other records sealed. Read more about shoplifting expungement here.

The store made me pay them following the arrest. Why?

Retail stores will often try to make you pay civil fines by demanding it from you after your arrest or later by mail. This is called a civil demand and it is based on the idea that you could be sued civilly in addition to any criminal charges you face. You should speak with your lawyer about this before your date in criminal court.

I'm guilty. Do I need a lawyer or can I just plead guilty?

Never plead guilty without speaking to a lawyer first. There are two reasons why. First, you may not have broken the law, even though you think you did. Secondly, even if you did break the law, you may be eligible for special treatment based on the unique circumstances of your case such as you such as emotional strain, medications you were on, depression, lack of a criminal history, employment, acceptance of responsibility etc.

The cop never read me my rights. Will that help?

Maybe. This could prevent certain evidence from being used against you. Call for a consultation to discuss this important issue.

I never left the store. How can I still have been arrested?

This is a very important question because the ultimate issue is whether you did anything wrong and secondly, even if you did, whether the store has enough evidence against you. Whether you "did it" or not, call for a consultation to discuss how to get the best outcome.

I have been issued a Desk Appearance ticket for shoplifting. Can I plead guilty by mail?

No. Unlike certain traffic violations, you cannot plead guilty by mail. Even if you could, you wouldn't want to because doing so would result in a permanent criminal record as well as other possible penalties. You must appear in court at the appointed time and place with an attorney to have your case resolved. Having an experienced and skilled attorney representing you can make a significant difference in how your case turns out.

Will the store security person appear in court on the return date as well?

No, only you will be appearing in court on that date.

Because I was given a Desk Appearance ticket for shoplifting, does that mean the case against me is weak?

No, Desk Appearance tickets are frequently issued because they save the City money. The strength or weakness of your case has nothing to do with it.

What happens in court when I appear on the return date?

You will appear before the judge who will inform you and your lawyer about the charges you are facing. Bail may be set and the case will move on to litigation.

This is my first shoplifting charge. Is there a chance I will go to jail?

Yes, but the risk will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. The Penal Code doesn't make exceptions for first-time shoplifting offenders. You may be able to get special treatment but every case is different, based on unique circumstances, which will affect the outcome. Having an experienced attorney handling your case is key. By calling our law firm to discuss your situation with a New York City Shoplifting lawyer, you will get a better idea of what to expect.

How are cases finally resolved?

Litigation of a case will end either with a dismissal, plea-bargain, conviction, or acquittal after trial. Our law office is prepared to handle your case at any stage up to and including trial.

To learn more about shoplifting and Desk Appearance tickets, contact a New York City Shoplifting attorney at the firm today.

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