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