New York Shoplifting Laws

New York is one of the shopping capitals of the world. From Bergdorf Goodman to Barney’s, the “Big Apple” and “power shopping” go hand-in-hand. But along with world-class retailers and hungry customers pounding the pavement for the best deals and the latest fashions, you’ll often find crime. Specifically theft-related crime. New York shoplifting laws are in place to combat such activity, and also provide a remedy to the merchant who might otherwise be at a loss because of the defendant. However, just because you or someone you love has been accused of shoplifting, doesn’t mean a New York prosecutor will be able to prove it.

New York Shoplifting Elements

In New York, as in many states, shoplifting is also known as “larceny” or simply “theft.” The elements of shoplifting are pretty basic – a person wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds the property of another person or entity, with the intent to deprive that person or entity of the property. It is important to understand that the prosecutor may also be able to charge you with commercial burglary if there are facts and circumstances to warrant the charge. For instance, if you entered a store with specific tools designed to open packages or disarm the security sensors, there may be evidence that you formed the intent to steal before entering the store, hence an act of commercial burglary. Speak with a criminal defense attorney to learn more.

New York Shoplifting Laws At a Glance

The following table provides a basic overview of New York’s shoplifting laws and penalties. Keep in mind, there may be several defenses to shoplifting available to you depending on the circumstances of your case.  

Statutes

  • New York Penal Law § 155.25 et. seq.(Petit Larceny)
  • New York Penal Law § 155.05 et. seq. (Larceny) 

Charges based upon value of items taken

  • Petit larceny, class A misdemeanor: $1,000 or less
  • Grand larceny in the fourth degree; class E felony: Between $1,000-$3,000
  • Grand larceny in the third degree; class D felony: Between $3,000-$5,000
  • Grand larceny in the second degree; class C felony: Between $50,000-$1 million
  • Grand larceny in the first degree; class B felony: More than $1 million

Penalties

  • Petit larceny, class A misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail; fine of up to $1,000
  • Grand larceny in the fourth degree; class E felony: Up to four years in prison; a fine not to exceed $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting, whichever is greater
  • Grand larceny in the third degree; class D felony: Up to seven years in prison; a fine not to exceed $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting, whichever is greater
  • Grand larceny in the second degree; class C felony: Up to 15 years in prison; a fine not to exceed $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting, whichever is greater
  • Grand larceny in the first degree; class B felony: Up to 25 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the shoplifting, whichever is greater

Possible civil liability?  

Yes, merchants who have been victims of shoplifters can initiate a separate, civil suit for the retail value of the merchandise. See New York General Obligations Law § 11-105.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Additional Resources for New York Shoplifting Laws

After reading this article, you may have additional questions or want to do your own research about New York shoplifting laws or the potential civil penalties associated with shoplifting. You can click on the links below to learn more:  

Next Steps: Free Case Evaluation

Whether you’ve been accused of stealing a piece of candy or a piece of expensive jewelry, you should be aware of the laws and penalties associated with a conviction for shoplifting in New York. You also should have a strong advocate to help guide you through the legal system. You can start the process with a free case review from an experienced New York criminal defense attorney today.

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