Expungement & Shoplifting Arrests

Expungement defined. Expungement is the process by which criminal records on file with the state or federal government are destroyed or sealed. Because governmental records are often the source of negative criminal background information, expungement is a desirable step to avoid and reduce the chance that prospective employers or others will learn of a past arrest or conviction. So, if your shoplifting case is coming up in a background check, it could be because the state where you were arrested still has it on file.

Shoplifting Expungement in New York

Fingerprints. During the arrest process in New York City, the NYPD will, generally, fingerprint you and photograph you. Until recently, fingerprints were collected by inking a suspects fingertips, rolling them on paper cards, and comparing these fingerprint cards against others to determine if a suspect has any warrants or a criminal record. Prior to the 1980s, trained officers in a dedicated unit of the NYPD would analyze ridge endings, ridge dots, and other aspects of the fingerprint structure to do this. This process was modernized in the 1970s and 1980s and computers began narrowing the possible range of matches. This was the earliest use of an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). In the 1980s and 1990s, computers started handling more and more of the process and steadily narrowed search results. In 2003, the NYPD began using advanced AFIS and Live-scan imaging. Live-scan is a computerized fingerprint scanner which electronically transmits fingerprint data for storage and comparison. Fingerprint data is stored by the State of New York and sent to the FBI to be stored by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The NCIC makes your arrest information available to the other 49 states. This means that if a different state, such as California, runs your background, your New York shoplifting arrest may come up.

The Arrest Photo. During an arrest, the NYPD will routinely take a digital photograph called a mugshot. The purpose is to allow the police to help identify the person being arrested. They can also be used later as evidence regarding the suspects appearance and physical condition at the time of arrest. Increasingly, arrest photographs are being sold to for-profit websites that publish them and will only remove them upon payment of a fee. This is being called mugshot extortion and is one of the less fortunate uses of the Internet. The websites that do this are claiming that the First Amendment protects them.

Arrest and court records. During an arrest, your name, date of birth, address, and other identifying information about you is collected an made part of an arrest report, complaint report, booking sheet, and other routine police paperwork. This information can form the basis of a criminal court complaint and other filings which add to your court file. The problem is that the bigger your court file gets, the greater the risk that details of your case could be discovered by others.

How can the Law Office of Lance Fletcher Help?

Put simply, we will fight to get your record destroyed and/or sealed to the maximum extent allowed by law. As former prosecutors, the attorneys at the Law Office of Lance Fletcher, PLLC have an intimate understanding of the different types of information collected during the arrest and subsequent prosecution. Our attorneys will take steps to limit the amount of information about you that gets associated with your case to keep things as quiet and confidential as possible. If your case is still open, we would like to speak with you about the facts of your case to determine the likelihood that we can assist with an eventual expungement. Contact us for a case evaluation. Assuming expungement is permitted in your case, we can:

  1. Provide you with official written documentation that your fingerprint records have been destroyed
  2. Provide you with official written documentation that your arrest photograph (mugshot) has been destroyed
  3. Provide you with official written documentation that the FBI has been notified to take similar action regarding your FBI NCIC record
  4. Provide you with official written documentation that your court records have been sealed.
  5. Investigate your background to verify that your shoplifting arrest no longer appears

A Small Sample Our Shoplifting Expungement Results

  • Client was arrested in Macy's for shoplifting clothing items - case dismissed - fingerprints, photographs destroyed - FBI record cleared (#11-82)
  • Client arrested in Sak's Fifth Avenue - Client found with a dress hidden in client's bag - Almost $1,000 in allegedly stolen merchandise - Client had a high-profile, public job - Case dismissed, fingerprints and phonograph destroyed, FBI notified to clear the record (#11-84)
  • Client arrested in Macy's and found with unpaid shirt and tie in Macy's shopping bag - Client had a professional license and worried about keeping record clean - Case dismissed, fingerprints and photograph destroyed, FBI notified to clear record (#07-43)
  • Client arrested in Century 21 - Client attempted to leave without paying for nearly $800 in luggage - Client traveled internationally often - Case dismissed, fingerprints and photograph destroyed, FBI notified to purge record (#10-53)
  • Client arrested in Whole Foods for taking merchandise and attempting to leave without paying - Case dismissed without having to go to court - Fingerprints, arrest photograph destroyed, FBI notified to purge record (Expungement was important here because the lack of court action, while good, could have left Client with a permanent arrest record because there was no official court disposition.) (#12-52)
  • Client arrested in the Gap - Found with unpaid merchandise in client's pocket - Client had a professional license and a position of public trust - Case dismissed, fingerprints and photograph destroyed, FBI notified to purge client's record (#13-49)
  • Client arrested in Costco - Found with merchandise in client's pockets - Client worked for the Federal Government and had a security clearance - Case dismissed - Fingerprints, arrest photograph destroyed, FBI notified to clear the record (#05-84)
  • (If your store is not listed above, this will not affect the outcome and the above is a small sample of the types of shoplifting cases attorney has successfully handled)

Although New York's Criminal Procedure Law allows for certain types of expungement, it won't apply in every case. Whether you can get your shoplifting case expunged will greatly depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. Contact us today for a case evaluation.

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