My question involves criminal law for the state of: New York
Hi, this is my first time posting. I am 30 years old and a senior at a private university upstate. this afternoon i made a huge mistake. I was shopping at a food store (where I had a $50 gift card) and placed my items in my cart. I had some frozen items that I put into a plastic bag and when I realized that I was not needing a ton of things, left the cart and walked to the bakery area with the bag. I had every intention of paying for the items with my gift card. when I was in the book/magazine area I grabbed 2 magazines and (since I was wearing a sweatshirt with a pouch and did not have a cart) stuck them in there for later to pay for. here is where I was stupid.. there was a tiny funnel and nail brush (both 50 cents) that I stuck in my pocket. I was dumb and as I walked to the bakery area again to get my friend's birthday cake, realized that it was stupid and intended to pay for everything, scolding myself in my head for being an idiot.
I did not want to risk it and have never stolen anything in my life. (-- wait not true. when I was 4 years old I swiped a lifesavers candy from the checkout and my mom made me walk back into the store to return it.) I have a completely clean record and had never been arrested or done anything illegal.
anyway, I picked up the cake and a cold container of mac and cheese (and put it on top of the large cake box) and as I was nearing the start of the store realized that I needed to get 2 citronella candles for the birthday party tonight. they keep them in an area when you first walk into the store. I walked straight past the coffee bar/newspapers and never left the store. as I was picking up the candles, a lady came up to me and said she wanted me to fill out a 'survey'.
I walked with her and then realized that the loss prevention guy thought that I was going to walk out of the store with my frozen items in a clear shopping bag, a cake and mac and cheese. I immediately told her I was just getting a citronella candle (still inside the store) and she brought me to a back room etc.
I explained to them that I had no intention of stealing these items and showed them my gift card. I cooperated fully and the security guy told me that if i was honest he would not call the police. My biggest problem was that I had those 2 stupid 50 cent items in my pocket. I admitted that i originally put them in there because I had left my cart and was carrying the bag etc. and that I re-thought taking these cheap items and it was stupid and I was going to pay for them when I got to the cashier.
he told me that it was pre-meditated because I put my frozen items in a bag before purchasing. I explained that I just did that so i would not have to lug around a cart (and people do it ALL THE TIME there) and he said no and that I was lying and called the police. They came and handcuffed me and basically arrested me although they never read me my rights. I went to the police office and got a photo and fingerprints and was charged with petit larceny.
the cake was $20 and the frozen item came to about $20 plus $10 for the 2 magazines and trinket items. I told the police as well that I never intended to leave the store and that I was going near the cart area to get 2 citronella candles. they gave me a hearing date and I have no idea what to do now.
I am going for my masters degree next June in social work and this will kill my chances for a well-paying job. I have invested so much money in student loans etc. and do not want this on my permanent record. they do have everything on video etc. as well as me never ever leaving the store.
do i have a chance for not having this on my record?? the store loss prevention man said that when you pass the cashiers that is when it is considered stealing, but people go in the main hall all the time to buy plants, patio furniture, citronella candles, wood, charcoal etc. if it is still considered the store how could I have been arrested if I never left the store? I know it was stupid to put those 2 items in my pocket but I fully intended to take them out and realized that it was dumb. I would never try to walk out of a store with a huge cake, frozen food in a shopping bag etc.
please help. I am not sure if I should plead not guilty and see if it is thrown out on a technicality since i did not leave the shopping area -- or that they never read me my rights -- or not sure what else i could plead to. I do not want this to completely screw up everything I have been working so hard for. (if it makes a difference, I injured my knee a day prior -- one that I had major surgery on 10 years ago -- and I was in pain and stressed out about it -- even though that does not give me a reason to put trinkets in my pocket -- just to say that I was not thinking as clearly as I usually do and the stress and pain was definitely on my mind at the time.)
any advice would be so greatly appreciated.