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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    1

    Default Serious Consequences After False Arrest for Shoplifting

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: New York

    Background:
    Let me start with a short introduction because it is important in my case: I am a foreigner, but I studied in the US a lot, I have PhD in criminal law in one of the European countries and LLM degree that I got in a NY Law School. I am teaching in a University + working for an international corporation, holding a leading position.

    The Incident Details:

    My fiancé and I traveled to NY for a vacation around the Christmas time. A day before the New Year my fiancé and I were meant to travel to Antigua for sailing school. Since we had little time left for New Year shopping and gifts, we decided to split: he went to Bloomingdales to buy for me a gift, and I went to Macy’s. I had a list of items to buy for him: a shirt, a tie, a belt, a pair of jeans, a pair of gloves, and cuff-links. Also, I needed to get for myself a set of jewelry that we had chosen for me a day or two ago when shopping at Macy’s + a pair of purple shoes for myself for the dress that I had with me.

    I went first to buy the jewelry which cost 1099.00 USD and paid for them right away. Then I went up to the men’s floor to choose the above mentioned items. I looked through the floor and selected 1-3 of each, so my fiancé could come and choose from my selection one of each. The idea was to save time since we had evening plans for a jazz club and a dinner reservation. I was in 2-3 floors and got everything I needed. Since there were many items of small size I needed to put them somewhere. So I used the bag I had with me – the shopping bag of Victoria’s Secret, and took Macy’s shopping bag. When I finished with men’s staff, I wanted to go up and choose the shoes for my dress, and I was about to get to the stairs up, when I was stopped by 2 men and one woman who rudely closed my way and took me to the security office. They did not injure me physically, but they were pretty rude and teasing me all the time.

    I have tried to explain many times my intentions, my fiancé did appear and wanted to confirm the story, but nobody would listen to us. They told me that NYS law considers it a shoplifting if one goes 2 floors up without paying for the selected items. Being a lawyer, I was shocked by this nonsense law – shoplifting requires intention and depriving the owner from its property. And when I got out of jail I checked the NYS Penal Code - there is no law like that, the petite larceny says exactly what I thought: intention to steal and actual deprival from the property.

    All the price tags were not damaged, I already paid for the jewelry, and I had over 400 USD cash with me and about 40,000 USD on my credit cards.

    I was put to a cell for 2-3 hours until the police arrived. Before that the Macy’s officer wanted me to sign a paper and admit that I committed shoplifting, but of course I refused to sign. The interesting thing was that even policemen did not ask me any single question. I spent a night in jail, and next morning was offered to plea guilty, but I refused.

    VERY IMPORTANT:

    There is a serious contradiction in the testimonials of the Macy’s officer.

    In section 4 of Shoplifting / Trespass Supporting Deposition he did not check the box that says “Yes, I observed the defendant attempt to leave the store in possession of the property without paying for it”, but he checked the box saying “Yes, I observed the defendant walk pass more than one open register and move to another floor”. While in the Misdemeanor Complaint he testified to my Arresting Officer that he “observed the defendant inside the above named store and remove ….by placing the items inside the defendant’s two bags and then attempt to leave the store in possession of the property and without paying for it”.

    Thus, the main witness of the DA is contradicting himself, so his testimonials are not credible. She has no other evidence against me. But she does not agree to dismiss the case unless she sees the tape. It has been more than two months she is waiting for that tape, my lawyer personally served a subpoean to MAcy's to get the tape, but Macy’s still has not provided it. And I had to travel twice to NY for hearings that were meaningless: the DA said she was not ready, and the judge appointed another hearing.
    Every time I travel from Europe it is 9-hour flight each way, about 3000-5000 USD expenses plus I pay to my attorney.

    Question:

    I just need a second opinion: what else can I do to get the case dismissed ASAP, so I do not have to travel so often and spend so much money. Pleading guilty is not an option.

    Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    8,629

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    You know the answer. Get a lawyer. The fact that you're fishing here for answers even with a law degree shows it is ill-advised that you go this pro se.
    Further, you should no that it's not false arrest. All arrest needs to meet is probable cause that a crime is committed. Even if you are factually innocent, that doesn't make the arrest "false."
    Again, it makes me wonder whether you were paying attention in law classes.

    The case history in NY shows that concealment (which you admit) is not of itself larceny. However, if you are moving towards the exit (which the LP seems justified that he seems to think you were, even if you were just trying to go to a different part of the store), the fact is you most likely passed places where you could have paid for the bagged items and you did not, which presumes you didn't have the intent of doing so.

    The statements in the charging documents aren't going to matter. They just are the probable cause for the arrest/charges. The LP agent will have to testify in court, and your lawyer will have a chance to cross and offer testimony in rebutta.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    12,370

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    One other thing to note. Just because you have money, does not mean you are not a serial shoplifter. Many rich people steal for fun or compulsion.
    With enough thrust, pigs fly just fine.
    You may believe that you understood what you think I said. I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    17

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    Sue them for defamation. You didn't leave the store and didn't pass the final points of sale.

    In Florida, theft is only when you completely pass the cash register and all points of sale without paying for merchandise. The police told me that I can stuff any amount of items down my shirt or in my pockets and walk around the store for hours without getting in trouble, unless falsely detained. You can claim that you WERE going to pay for it. Given the amount of wealth you had on you, and the fact that you already paid a large sum of $1100, the court might side with you. Make sure you are extremely passionate while fighting your case. Get the best lawyer and jack their asses up

    Is this your first offense btw? And was it first or second degree

  5. #5

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    They told me that NYS law considers it a shoplifting if one goes 2 floors up without paying for the selected items.They are grossly misinformed. New York law allowsor says nothing of the sort. I've recently come across a department store chain that has this written into their shoplifter apprehension policy and they are just wrong and this policy will come back to bite them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    71,737

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    Quote Quoting Prospective
    View Post
    In Florida, theft is only when you completely pass the cash register and all points of sale without paying for merchandise.
    Even if we assume this is correct, since when is New York located in Florida? (And the statement does not appear to be correct for Florida.)
    Quote Quoting Florida Statutes, Sec. 812.015(6). Retail and farm theft; transit fare evasion; mandatory fine; alternative punishment; detention and arrest; exemption from liability for false arrest; resisting arrest; penalties.
    (6) An individual who, while committing or after committing theft of property, transit fare evasion, or trespass, resists the reasonable effort of a law enforcement officer, merchant, merchant's employee, farmer, or a transit agency's employee or agent to recover the property or cause the individual to pay the proper transit fare or vacate the transit facility which the law enforcement officer, merchant, merchant's employee, farmer, or a transit agency's employee or agent had probable cause to believe the individual had concealed or removed from its place of display or elsewhere or perpetrated a transit fare evasion or trespass commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, unless the individual did not know, or did not have reason to know, that the person seeking to recover the property was a law enforcement officer, merchant, merchant's employee, farmer, or a transit agency's employee or agent. For purposes of this section the charge of theft and the charge of resisting may be tried concurrently.
    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    The case history in NY shows that concealment (which you admit) is not of itself larceny.
    With some degree of qualification. See, e.g., People v. Olivo, 52 NY 2d 309 (1981).
    Quote Quoting People v. Olivo, 52 NY 2d 309 (1981)
    These cases present a recurring question in this era of the self-service store which has never been resolved by this court: may a person be convicted of larceny for shoplifting if the person is caught with goods while still inside the store? For reasons outlined below, it is concluded that a larceny conviction may be sustained, in certain situations, even though the shoplifter was apprehended before leaving the store.
    * * *
    Under these principles, there was ample evidence in each case to raise a factual question as to the defendants' guilt. In People v Olivo, defendant not only concealed goods in his clothing, but he did so in a particularly suspicious manner. And, when defendant was stopped, he was moving towards the door, just three feet short of exiting the store. It cannot be said as a matter of law that these circumstances fail to establish a taking.

    In People v Gasparik, defendant removed the price tag and sensor device from a jacket, abandoned his own garment, put the jacket on and ultimately headed for the main floor of the store. Removal of the price tag and sensor device, and careful concealment of those items, is highly unusual and suspicious conduct for a shopper. Coupled with defendant's abandonment of his own coat and his attempt to leave the floor, those factors were sufficient to make out a prima facie case of a taking.

    In People v Spatzier, defendant concealed a book in an attache case. Unaware that he was being observed in an overhead mirror, defendant looked furtively up and down the aisle before secreting the book. In these circumstances, given the manner in which defendant concealed the book and his suspicious behavior, the evidence was not insufficient as a matter of law.
    * * *
    In sum, in view of the modern definition of the crime of larceny, and its purpose of protecting individual property rights, a taking of property in the self-service store context can be established by evidence that a customer exercised control over merchandise wholly inconsistent with the store's continued rights. Quite simply, a customer who crosses the line between the limited right he or she has to deal with merchandise and the store owner's rights may be subject to prosecution for larceny. Such a rule should foster the legitimate interests and continued operation of self-service shops, a convenience which most members of the society enjoy.
    Quote Quoting Security Consultant
    View Post
    They told me that NYS law considers it a shoplifting if one goes 2 floors up without paying for the selected items.They are grossly misinformed. New York law allowsor says nothing of the sort. I've recently come across a department store chain that has this written into their shoplifter apprehension policy and they are just wrong and this policy will come back to bite them.
    I agree, merely moving items between floors of a store does not appear consistent with the case law on what can constitute evidence of an actual intent to deprive the store of its property.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    17

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    sue them man

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,242

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    Definitely sue them,it might be possible to hire a lawyer and not actually appear in person. I would research and find an excellent criminal and civil lawyer who can sue Macy's. I can grab a shirt in the Macy's near me and walk around and decide I want to buy some shoes with out leaving the store at all but still passing a few places to pay.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    695

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    @ Prospective & tc498: She can't sue the store becuase they accused her of a crime. The statements were not defamatory. They had reasonable cause to believe that she committed the crime and filed charges as such, that is not defamation regardless of the trial outcome.

    @OP: There is case law, as has been pointed out, that sets a precedence for obtaining a conviction for shoplifting without leaving the premises. The fact that you concealed the items in a shopping back with purchased items and that one of the bags was from a different store will work against you. If you had put them in an empty store bag it would be different. Although the law doesn't state that simply concealing is enough to show guilt, it does not restrict the larceny to by defining it as passing the final point of sale either. Basically the court will decide if there was an intent by you to hide some or all of the items.

  10. #10

    Default Re: False Arrest at Macy's NYC - Serious Consequences

    Of course the store will have to prove she intended not to pay and the store LP's statements, if they are true, will not help their case.

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