Unintentional shoplifting.

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Unintentional shoplifting.

I was caught shoplifting the other day.  The total was 39$.  It was an honest accident as I threw things in the cart some landed in the diaperbag and i forgot they were there.  What should I do?

Asked on June 6, 2009 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Although the prosecutor has to prove intent to steal, your success will depend on your credibility and how well you handle yourself on the stand. They must prove that you intended to steal and did in fact steal the item. The factors are going to be the prosecution witnesses as well and did they see you do it or did you set off a detector etc.

Normally, when you have no prior record, you can usually get what is known as an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. You stay out of trouble for six months and the matter is dismissed and your records destroyed. You may have to do some Community Service to get this or on Long Island, you have to take a Stoplift Course but you may be better trying to resolve it in that matter rather than risk a trial.

M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Larceny requires intent.  Therefore, if you have been arrested for this crime the police, and therefore the prosecuting attorney will be alleging that you intended to steal these items as opposed to it being an honest mistake.  However, if a defense attorney is able to demonstrate that this was, in fact, a mistake, it may be possible for you to have this charge resolved favorably.  Of course, whether this defense will be successful will depend on how successfully your defense attorney will be able to demonstrate that this was a mistake given the facts alleged in the police report as well as any exculpatory evidence that may exist.  Although a larceny charge for this amount of money is not the "crime of the century", I still recommend that you consult with and/or retain a skilled criminal defense attorney to handle this matter.  Anytime that you are charged with a criminal defense and you have a valid defense you need to hire a defense attorney to protect your rights.


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