Plea Bargaining Options in a Shoplifting Charge

If you have been caught shoplifting with the item concealed in your body after having exited the retail establishment, your defense may be a little weak. However, your shoplifting defense attorney may be able to bargain a lower charge or even the dismissal of the shoplifting charge depending on the unique circumstances of your case.

Your possible options in plea bargaining are: Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD), reduction of charge from misdemeanor to violation, reduction of charge from a class A to class B misdemeanor, reduction of charge from felony to misdemeanor, or even felony/misdemeanor to ACD.

Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal

An Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) is provided for under New York Criminal Procedure Law § 170.55. An ACD adjourns the action without a date, but usually within 6 to 12 months, with the view that the charge will be dismissed upon fulfillment of certain conditions, such as community service, staying out of trouble, etc.

An ACD does not appear in your criminal record, and an arrest that resulted to ACD can be sealed, usually after 6 months. An ACD is your best option if you have been arrested for shoplifting.

Usually, the prosecutors will offer ACD and some form of public community service when the value of merchandise shoplifted was $100 or less and you don’t have any previous criminal record. However, some shoplifting defense attorneys will be able to get an ACD even if the property taken was more than $100.

Reduction of Charges

Prosecutors will usually bargain for a reduction of charges, especially when evidence is weak or it is your first time to commit a crime and it doesn’t make sense for the prosecutor to go through trial on a minor offense.

Reduction of charge can be from a misdemeanor to a violation (disorderly conduct), from a class A misdemeanor (petit larceny) to class B misdemeanor (attempted petit larceny or attempted criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree), or from felony to misdemeanor (grand larceny to petit larceny).

Shoplifting guidelines will provide for the following plea-bargaining options:

Value of Merchandise is $100 or less

If the value of the merchandise shoplifted was $100 or less, prosecutors will offer Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal and some form of public community service. There will be no criminal conviction, the case will be dismissed, and the records will be sealed in six months.

Value of Merchandise is $101 to $500

If the value of the merchandise shoplifted is between $101 to $500, the prosecutors may offer a Disorderly Conduct violation (a non-criminal violation that will not give you a criminal record). You must discuss with your shoplifting attorney whether taking this option is feasible because even if the records of the violation are sealed, it is possible that a background check for security clearance might cause the reappearance of the arrest record.

Value of Merchandise is $500 to $1000

If the value of the merchandise shoplifted is between $500 to $1000, prosecutors may offer a lower level misdemeanor such as attempted petit larceny or attempted criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, which are “B” misdemeanors.

Value of Merchandise is More Than $1000

If the value of the merchandise shoplifted is above $1000, you may be charged for a felony, but this could be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Despite the existence of these guidelines, shoplifting defense attorneys have successfully negotiated felonies to misdemeanors, violations and ACDs, depending on the unique circumstances of each case. Should you need legal representation in shoplifting, the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York City, Brooklyn, NY, and Queens, NY. You can call us at 212-233-1233 or send us an email at [email protected].

Attorney Albert Goodwin

Law Offices of
Albert Goodwin, PLLC
31 W 34 Str, Suite 7058
New York, NY 10001
[email protected]