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Do you work for a bank or in finance? If so, a Shoplifting Case can be a Problem


If you've been arrested for shoplifting you may want to think twice about accepting an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) if you work or plan to work in banking or the financial industry.

An Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (under CPL 170.55) is, generally, an arrangement where as long as certain conditions are met, your case will be automatically dismissed by the court. It's available to almost anyone charged with a misdemeanor but requires the consent of the judge and District Attorney. Unfortunately, many District Attorneys and/or judges will refuse an application for an ACD but this will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case.

Many people charged with shoplifting go to court hoping for an ACD because, if granted, it's one of the best ways to reduce the risk and harsh consequences of a criminal prosecution. For example, petit larceny is punishable by up to a year in jail and a conviction could cause serious immigration and employment problems. By accepting an ACD, you can avoid conviction and keep your record relatively clean.

If you work for a bank or in the financial industry, FDIC regulations may make an ACD something to avoid.

Banks and other financial institutions that carry federal insurance on their deposits are restricted from hiring individuals who have been accused or convicted of certain crimes. This includes people convicted of crimes of dishonesty or a breach of trust who enter a pretrial diversion or similar program. Shoplifting is considered a crime of dishonesty. (See Smith v. Bank of America and United States v. Galati).

In Smith v. Bank of America (11-CV-6368, 2012), a District Court in the Eastern District of New York presided over Smith's lawsuit against Bank of America. Smith was arrested for shoplifting in New York and later received an ACD. Her employer, Bank of America, found out about the case and terminated her. She sued for discrimination but the District Court found that Bank of America acted lawfully and dismissed her complaint. The court reasoned that shoplifting is a crime of dishonesty and an ACD is a pretrial diversion program. Because of both of these facts, FDIC regulations allowed Bank of America to deny her employment.

This is not to say that you should or should not take an ACD if you work or plan to work in banking or finance. Instead, the risk posed by an ACD following a shoplifting arrest will have to be evaluated in the context of your other available options. Contact an attorney immediately to discuss your best strategy.