Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Mar 5, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Shoplifting, the removal of an object from a store or place of business without paying for it, is referred to in penal law as petit larceny and is generally considered a minor crime. So, do you really need an attorney to represent you in court? You bet. Here’s why:

Can a New York criminal lawyer really help?

Elliot Schlissel, a Long Island criminal law attorney whose firm represents individuals charged with criminal matters in both Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as in the greater New York metropolitan area, says that a private counselor can help by working out a plea bargain if it’s a first offense. He explained:

Often, the basis of the plea bargain is having the person take a shoplifting course and a representation that this will never happen again. In some cases, we obtain what’s called an ‘adjournment in contemplation of dismissal,’ which is basically a dismissal of the case. Kathleen Rice, the current district attorney of Nassau County is aggressive in prosecuting these cases, and while prosecution is generally not as severe in New York City, Brooklyn or Queens, an attorneys’ experience can help to avoid criminal records, fines and jail time.

Avoiding criminal records, fines and jail time

We asked Schlissel why someone should contact an attorney when charged with a minor crime. His answer? The reason someone should hire an attorney is because even minor crimes are crimes. He explained:

They are misdemeanors which can result in a criminal record, significant fines and possible jail time. Experienced New York criminal law attorneys are trained to deal with the criminal justice system. My office has been doing this type of work for 33 years. The attorneys in my office are all specially trained, have handled many of these cases and are familiar with the judges, the prosecutors, the court programs, the sentencing and the probation department. We are often able to obtain very favorable dispositions for our clients due to the fact that we have extensive experience in handling these matters and detailed knowledge of the legal system.