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  1. #1

    Default Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

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

    **I am aware that there is another recent thread pertaining to a shoplifter in N.Y. under similar circumstances, however I have questions which are more specific to my case and feel they could be best answered in a different thread. I apologize if this seems like a re-post or breaches forum policies.**

    Hello. I am a 20 year old student, currently enrolled in a college local to the area of my crime. I was recently arrested for shoplifting from Macy's in Brooklyn, N.Y. and received a DAT (Desk Appearance Ticket) I am scheduled to appear in court next month and in the time leading up to my court date I am seeking to learn as much information as I can so I can be as prepared as I possibly can be to achieve the best possible outcome. I have already been made aware that the Judge will appoint me a legal aid on the day of my trial as I cannot afford a lawyer of my own. Unfortunately, this means that I have had to gather as much information as possible, as to the possible outcomes on my own. Many times the information I have come across has been unclear so I hope some of my questions can be answered here.

    The first question I have is would I be eligible for an ACD (Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal). I have learned that seeing as this is my first criminal offence I may be offered an ACD however it appears that the cost of the merchandise that was in my possession will affect my eligibility. The four products I attempted to steal cost approximately $95- $150 dollars. Have read varying accounts from several sources one stating an ACD is only available for an attempted theft of $100 while others have said $200 and even as much as $500. I hope that someone here can clarify the amount so I know if an ACD may be an option. If not I am aware I may be eligable for a plea deal which could turn my charge into a violation.

    The second question is regarding my charges. On the DAT only the top offence I am being charged with is listed, which is PL 165.40 (Possession of Stolen Property). I realize that it is very likely that I am being charged with another offence and would like to find out if I am, and if so, what the other charges are. I have tried contacting the Courthouse about this matter however they have not yet received my arrest record and have said they may not until the day of my court appearance. Would I be able to find this information out by contacting the Police Precinct which booked me or must I await my court date?

    I ask these questions for two reasons, the first is so that I may be prepared as possible for my court date. I have realized I have made a terrible decision by shoplifting and while I am prepared to accept responsibly for my actions I also want to minimize the amount of damage they do to my life and reputation. The second reason is that I suffer from anxiety and over these past several days I have had several anxiety attacks both at home and in class. I hope that by being better informed I can attain some peace of mind prior to my court date.

    I sincerely want to thank anyone who read this or replies to me, as well as those of you who have written in other threads as the information has proved invaluable to me.

    Thank you,
    -

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    Anxiety attacks = doctor and prescription or counseling.

    Next: You would have to talk to a lawyer about an ACD or First Time Offenders program. (in your case....first time caught....4 items, you have stolen before....). You can get a consultation with a lawyer in your area. If you can afford a private lawyer, I would advise that. The only difference between a Public Defender and Private Attorney is that the private attorney will have more time to dedicate to your case.

    You will also have a Civil Demand letter coming in the mail from the store/it's attorneys. Pay it.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    Is using a public defender that un-advisable? I ask because I am positive I cannot afford a private attorney, I will already have a difficult time paying the Civil Demand and any other fines I receive. I know that I will be able to speak to the public defender very briefly but how much time can I expect? 5 minutes? more/less?

    Also I believe in order to get an ACD I must plead not guilty correct? If it turns out I plead not guilty and then find out I am not eligible for an ACD would that nullify my chances of getting any type of diversion program or first time offenders program?

    I you are unable to answer these questions I am sorry for the extra post.

    Thank you again for reading,

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    You should have thought of these costs before shoplifting. See all those signs in the WalMart bathrooms? They aren't kidding when they say shoplifting can cost you $2000...and that is not including a lawyer or public defender.

    Depending on your career goal...a private lawyer is highly advisable. More time on your case, less damage to your record. Also...do a job search for your career goal, see how many want a Criminal Background Check.

    You may want do drop a semester and pay for the lawyer.....

    Also, if you are on a scholarship, you may have that at risk also....

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    It really depends on the private lawyer and public defender. More time on your case does not automatically translate to better results. Public defenders will not have time to spend with you and hold your hand and talk you through the process. But they handle shoplifting cases ALL THE TIME. They know the ropes through sheer repetition. They know the judges and the prosecutors and who is likely to be more sympathetic to a first time offenders course or diversion program.

    A private attorney may or may not have the same relationships established, depending on how things are handled in your state, county and municipality.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    With a P.D....you have to prove you really can't pay for a private lawyer. Can't vs don't want to....

  7. #7

    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    Thank you both Pandora and cbg. Today I had contacted the court three times speaking to three different people to find out what documentation I must bring in order to prove my eligibility for a public defender. Each reply was the same, that I need only to request a public defender to have one appointed to me. To further verify this I contacted both a public defenders office in NYC as well as the NYC Bar Association both of whom agreed that I need only request a public defender in a DAT arraignment rather than prove eligibility. While this may be different for other types of trials or arraignments it seems to be the case as it has been supported by everyone I have spoken to. My current strategy is too spend the time I have between now and my court date contacting as many lawyers as I can who offer free council, I then plan to present whatever information I can learn from them to a public defender on my court date. This may change as I continue to learn about my situation as I can only base this on the information currently available to me.

    Thank you both for your advice and your time, each of your comments given me places to start my research and develop a greater understanding of my situation. Your help is greatly appreciated.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    Why do you think you need to tell a public defender what the law is?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    When you apply for a court-appointed lawyer you fill out a form describing your financial status, so it can be checked against the county/borough's standards for eligibility. In some counties/boroughs you may be asked to fill out an affidavit describing your income and assets; in others you will simply be referred to a public defender's office and that office will verify your eligibility. The only policies that matter are those of the court in which the charges will be heard and the public defender's office, legal aid association, or other entity serving the needs of indigent defendants. Some jurisdictions appoint individual lawyers for indigent defense, although such jurisdictions normally require an affidavit to be submitted to the court.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Arrested for Shoplifting in NYC, First Offense

    And...the P.D does come with a payback obligation, so don't think he/she is a "free" lawyer. You will be asked to pay a few hundred dollars.

    As for your defense....yes, in taking the case to trial you are asking the store to prove you are guilty. I am sure you signed documents at the scene stating what happened. Also...that little thing called security cameras. And the Loss Prevention staff who detained you. So if you really want a "not guilty" plea and trial....take that into consideration.

    What is the value of the items you stole, exactly? Forget the range, give the exact amount.
    What did you sign or write down?

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