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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    5

    Exclamation Petit Larceny at a Grocery Store - Should I Plead Not Guilty?

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Il.(near StL,Mo.)
    Posts
    5,252

    Default Re: Petit Larceny at a Grocery Store - Should I Plead Not Guilty?

    Someone may come along with some additional advice but I believe you need to get yourself an attorney.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    3,837

    Default Re: Petit Larceny at a Grocery Store - Should I Plead Not Guilty?

    If you have NOT been arraigned yet, when it happens enter a NOT guilty plea if by that time you have not secured the advice of counsel.

    kristin, a very prudent and wise move would be to invest some money in a criminal defense attorney as you state you may have a lot to risk concerning your degree status

    Tell him or her EXACTLY the harm you wish to avoid and HOW to legally disprove thier case or get the charge reduced to a plea bargain or some type of first offender program. This is where if this was your first charge, the court will "defer" sentencing if you stay out of trouble for X amount of time, and effectively erase the charge as if it never happened.


    Whether or not you left the sales area may or may not be relevant, as some states codify that concealment facially proves intent or criminal state of mind of theft, mens rea.


    If you are worried about your future career, HIRE your own Attorney, and ASAP, he or she needs to evaluate all the facts.

    Yes, it may cost 4/5 grand (?), but your anxiety concerning your possible employment life is well worth it, wouldn't you say.

    Best wishes!!


    BOR (Bill of Rights)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    3,837

    Default Re: Petit Larceny at a Grocery Store - Should I Plead Not Guilty?

    Quote Quoting kristin1978
    View Post
    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.
    A few questions here. Did the police actually charge you with a crime, or was it just the store security personnel's office berating you?

    I am assuming the police did, as you mention a "hearing"!!

    Define what this "hearing" is??

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    5

    Smile all the info ::

    first to BOR and all who replied to me = I sincerely thank you.

    I was typing last night from memory so here is all the info..

    APPEARANCE TICKET C.P.L. 150.10

    you are hereby notified to appear personally in the xxx town court on 8-12-08 at 6 pm to answer a charge of PETIT LARCENY committed on 7-27-08 at 16:36 pm IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 155.25 SUBDIVISION of the PL issued on 7-27-08.

    NOTICE DISPOSITION :: upon your failure to appear as above directed, a criminal summons or warrant for your arrest may be issued.

    NOTICE :: you are entitled to receive a supporting desposition further explaining the charge provided you reequest such supporting desposition within thirty days from the date you are directed to appear in court as set forth on this appearance ticket. D you request a supporting desposition?

    yes ( ) no ( ) == and i was not given opportunity to check one.. I saw it last night on the bottom and do not know what it means.

    *****************************

    On the bottom it also says:

    C.P.L. 170.10(5)

    upon your appearance before the local court named herein you have the right to the aid of counsel at the arraignment and at every subsequent stage of the action. If you appear upon such arraignment without counsel, you have the following rights:

    (a.) to an adjournment for the purpose of obtaining counsel; and

    (b.) to communicate, free of charge, by letter or by telephone, for the purpose of obtaining counsel and informing a relative or friend that you have been charged with an offense; and

    (c.) to have counsel assigned by the court if you are financially unable to obtain the same.

    *****************************

    I did some searching last night and found a post on a forum that dealt with petit larceny in an amount that was more than mine and someone responded that:

    "I can say from experience, I've seen much more serious issues be dismissed under an ACD (Adjornment in Conteplation of Dismissal). The lawyer can argue the facts of a first time offender, offer restitution, and community service instead of jail or probation. ACD would usually be a 6 month, keep-my-nose clean deal. At the end, it all disappears."

    *******************************

    do you know more about this ACD in NY? it sound perfect and I would have no problem 'keeping my nose clean' for 6 months or a year because I have never had any run ins with the police.. ever.

    *******************************

    I also did not realize it would cost $4,000 approx. I absolutely do not have that type of money as I purchased a home last year (with the help of my father = it is in his name because the loan payments from his homeowners loan was cheaper for me per month than a mortgage and my credit is not as pristine as his.) do they have loans or payment plans for legal affairs that i do not know about? I am cautious about a free legal counsel because I almost feel like they would not be as effective as a high paid attorney?? and I have never had experience with this. is this sometimes true?? (I keep picturing crappy cop tv shows etc. where legal counsel are lawyers trying to obtain experience etc.)

    ********************************

    do you or anyone know more about this ACD and my hope for getting it for petit larceny in upstate NY?

    Adjourned in Contemplation of Dismissal

    In U.S. criminal law, Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, or ACD, may be offered to a defendant in the interest of justice with a view toward ultimate dismissal of the charge (see e.g. New York Criminal Procedure Law, Section 170.55). The case is usually adjourned for a period of six months (sometimes a year) after which time the case will be dismissed as long as the defendant has stayed out of trouble, i.e., has not gotten arrested again. It is NOT a form of probation nor a conviction.

    In criminal procedure, the defendant subject to the Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal is restored to the status he or she occupied prior to arrest, either during or after the period of adjournment that accompanies the ACD: that is, all records of the arrest and charges are non-existent after the period of time for which the ACD applies; however, a local law enforcement record of the arrest is retained by default, unless explicitly expunged.

    An Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal is not an admission of guilt. It is a a routine form of dismissal for minor offenses (outright dismissals are seldom made). It is commonly offered to protesters who were arrested in order to deter the defendant from committing illegal acts while the ACD is active. The use of ACD is seen in precedents such as the Bikes Against Bush protests.

    Conditional ACDs

    The judge Adjourning in Contemplation of Dismissal may impose specific conditions on the defendant subject to the ACD, which may include:

    * Community service
    * Drug rehabilitation
    * Make restitution with a victim of the circumstances
    * Avoiding contact with the victim

    It may also be accompanied by an admonition to abstain from wanton, injurious, criminal, abusive or disruptive behavior. On the acceptance of the ACD and its conditions by all parties to the case, including judge, prosecuting attorney and the defence, the matter is adjourned without disposition and the defendant is released without bail condition.

    Application and Surrounding Process


    The burden of proof in the court systems which employ the system of ACD rests with the people (that is, the prosecution). If evidence demonstrating guilt is not presented, the matter is deemed dismissed, and the ACD proceeds along its standard course of action.

    In New York State, a case subject to an ACD is normally dismissed on the date of adjournment, and restored on the first anniversary of the dismissal, upon which the matter is sealed automatically, except on objection from the prosecution.

    Alternative Terminology

    The terminology by which an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal is referred may vary from state to state. In Maryland, it is termed "Probation before Judgment". It may also be referred to as an ACOD, which is identical to ACD, but includes the pronoun of in the title that is abbreviated.

    There is a separate provision for ACDs involving marijuana in the state of New York, U.S.A. under CPL 170.56.

    ***********************

    thanks again in advance for any and all help.

    also.. I have been looking for an attorney to speak with this afternoon and is there an association that I can check for membership to (that shows legitimacy)? like when looking for a Dentist you can go to the ADA website for American Dental Association to make sure your dentist is a member so you know he is not a quack? I am not sure if there is one for criminal attorneys - or if anyone knows of a good lawyer or referral on in the syracuse or surrounding area.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    5

    Default update:

    I have a meeting with a top notch attorney who used to be a DA in my area for tomorrow morning at 10 am. thanks to all who helped out and i will definitely be checking this site in case anyone responds further.

    given my background and circumstances etc. he believes that I will be dismissed or dismissed with some community service -- not on my 'record'. he does think we may be able to get the ACD as well.

    the best thing about the conversation was that he said I am able to calm down and de-stress. It has been a pretty harrowing and sleepless evening; I have been beating myself up in my head all night long and I have finally breathed a sign of relief just now.

    I hope only to be able to return to this website for more great information or to help other people with my circumstance in the future. I am super fortunate to have been able to find this forum and it's helpful members.

    thanks again and have a great afternoon.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    3,837

    Default Re: update:

    Quote Quoting kristin1978
    View Post
    I have a meeting with a top notch attorney who used to be a DA in my area for tomorrow morning at 10 am. thanks to all who helped out and i will definitely be checking this site in case anyone responds further.

    given my background and circumstances etc. he believes that I will be dismissed or dismissed with some community service -- not on my 'record'. he does think we may be able to get the ACD as well.
    Yes, this was the deferred sentence/first offender program I mentioned, states have various names for them, here NY refers to it as ACD or such.

    I just threw out a figure of 4-5 grand, I did not mean it would absolutely be that much, could be 1/2 or 1/3 less?? I do not know what this lawyer is charging you. He will guide you through such ACD questions you have.

    the best thing about the conversation was that he said I am able to calm down and de-stress. It has been a pretty harrowing and sleepless evening; I have been beating myself up in my head all night long and I have finally breathed a sign of relief just now.
    This is essential to good mental health, stress and anxiety are killers.

    I hope only to be able to return to this website for more great information or to help other people with my circumstance in the future. I am super fortunate to have been able to find this forum and it's helpful members.

    thanks again and have a great afternoon.
    You are quite welcome. It was good you did some research yourself about such programs the court's offer, that is why I asked for more information, but it seems you did a good job yourself.

    Best wishes in your life!!

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