Trying to get the items you need when you don't have the money to get them is challenging. The thought of taking the items you need from merchants might cross your mind. This is a consideration that you should avoid. Taking items without paying or without permission is shoplifting, a form of larceny. You can face time in prison and considerable fines for a larceny conviction.
Can be a misdemeanor or felony
Shoplifting charges aren't always misdemeanors. In fact, only petit larceny is a misdemeanor. Grand larceny charges are felony charges. No matter which type of charge you are facing, you must ensure that you have a defense against the charges prepared for your trial. Even if you plan to try to work out a plea deal, preparing for trial is always necessary in case the plea deal doesn't happen. Your defense is especially important if you are facing a felony. You must live with the felon label after a felony conviction.
Value of merchandise matters
The value of the allegedly stolen merchandise determines the charge. New York law categorizes larceny charges as follows:
- Up to $1,000 in merchandise: Misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines
- $1,000 to $3,000 in merchandise: Class E felony with up to four years in prison and fines
- $3,000 to $50,000 in merchandise: Class D felony with up to seven years in prison and fines
- $50,000 to $1 million in merchandise: Class C felony with up to 15 years in prison and fines
- $1 million or more: Class B felony with up to 25 years in prison and fines
Fines vary greatly
The fines for felony grand larceny convictions vary greatly. In all cases, the fine associated with the conviction is up to $5,000 or two times the value of the merchandise, whichever amount is greater. This can have a big impact on your finances, especially if you serve time in prison and must pay these fines when you get out.
Civil penalties are possible
Even if you don't face criminal charges for the alleged shoplifting, you can face civil penalties. The civil lawsuit enables the merchant to attempt to recoup the value of the merchandise from you. This is filed in civil court, which is completely separate from any criminal case that occurs because of the incident.