Albuquerque Shoplifting/Larceny Criminal Defense Lawyers
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting Shoplifting and Larceny Charges throughout New Mexico
Stealing is a crime. If you are caught stealing or accused of stealing, not only is it an embarrassment; it can have serious repercussions in your life. Whether the value of the items is large or small, stealing can get you into hot water, saddling you with a criminal record, fines, community service, and even potential jail time. Call an experienced Albuquerque, NM larceny defense lawyer if you or a family member have been accused or charged with shoplifting in New Mexico.
In New Mexico’s criminal statutes, “larceny” refers to crimes involving theft, and is defined as “the stealing of anything of value that belongs to another.” The term larceny is used when the theft of property was not achieved by means of force or intimidation (robbery) or by trespass/ breaking and entering (burglary). The thing stolen can be an object, merchandise, money, checkbook, credit card, service, meals, accommodations, or someone’s identity. Charges for theft are typically defined as either petty theft or grand theft, depending on the value of the property taken.
Acts that Constitute Larceny
These offenses are specified as larceny in New Mexico’s statutes:
- Intentionally receiving, retaining or disposing of stolen property knowing or believing that it has been stolen, except with the intention of returning it to the owner
- Falsely obtaining services, food, entertainment, or accommodations and deliberately skipping out on the check
- Identity theft, which is fraudulently using another person’s personal identifying information to open accounts, obtain credit, services, merchandise, or other things of value
- Credit card theft, or taking a credit card of another person without the cardholder’s knowledge or consent, intending to use it, sell it, or give it to someone else. Credit card theft is a fourth degree felony
- Renting or leasing a vehicle or other personal property by representing yourself as someone else or using another person’s driver’s license or other identifying information, and then failing to return it. Charges can range from a petty misdemeanor if the value of the property is $250 or less, up to a second degree felony if the value is $20,000 or more
- Shoplifting, which includes all of the following:
- Switching or altering price tags on merchandise so you pay less for an item
- Switching packaging; putting the item you want in the box of less expensive item
- Leaving a store wearing or carrying concealed, unpaid-for merchandise
- Eating food in a store and leaving without paying for it
Defenses to Larceny Charges
To avoid a conviction, the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you took and removed someone else’s property without their consent, and that it was your intention to permanently deprive the owner of their property.
Violations of your constitutional rights and proving that you could not have taken the property are among the first things your criminal defense attorney will consider in developing a defense. Other possible defenses include showing that you believed that the property in question actually belonged to you, that you intended to return the property when you took it, that the owner of the property consented to your taking it, or that the taking of the property was done under duress.
New Mexico Criminal Defense Law Firm
“Larceny” is a legal term of art meaning theft. The most common larceny charge, unsurprisingly, is shoplifting. Unfortunately, shoplifting even a small item can land you in jail and stigmatize you for the rest of your life. It could also result in restitution liability that could far exceed the value of the item.
You might be surprised at how easy it is to shoplift something accidentally. You don’t even need to leave the shop to commit the offense – even concealing the item is enough. Many of our clients have faced shoplifting charges that arose from an innocent moment of absent-mindedness. Others have been victimized when someone else switched price tags on an item to make it appear cheaper.
The Valuation Game
One aspect of larceny law that renders it unique from most other criminal offenses is the fact that penalties get dramatically steeper as the estimated value of the item goes up. Taking a ring worth $2,500 could get you 18 months in prison – but add a dime to its value, and the maximum sentence rises to three years. A good criminal defense lawyer will know how to influence the valuation process in your favor.
Standing Up for You
New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is a two-attorney firm that opened in 1997. Both of us have appeared in nearly every New Mexico criminal court, and we know most of the players in the New Mexico criminal justice system. We are not universally popular, however – although judges like us, some prosecutors don’t like us because we make their jobs far more difficult. That’s something we take pride in.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the various degrees of theft and their maximum jail/prison sentences?
Your penalty will increase with the value of the stolen item:
- Misdemeanor petty theft: $250 or less; six months.
- Misdemeanor theft: $250.01 to $500; one year.
- Fourth-degree felony theft: $500.01 to $2,500; 18 months.
- Third-degree felony theft: $2,500.01 to $20,000; three years.
- Second-degree felony theft: Over $20,000; nine years.
Will I have to pay restitution?
Yes, you probably will if you are convicted. If so, you will be liable for:
- The value of the stolen item (unless it was returned undamaged to its owner);
- The cost of bringing the lawsuit;
- Reasonable attorney’s fees; and
- Punitive damages of $100 to $250.
What effect will prior convictions have on my sentence?
If you have prior felonies within the last 10 years, New Mexico will likely add:
- One year to your sentence for a single prior felony;
- Four years to your sentence for two prior felonies; and
- Eight years to your sentence for three prior felonies.
Should I talk to the police after my arrest?
No. You have the “right to remain silent,” and you should exercise it. If the police ask you any questions, tell them you cannot answer any questions outside the presence of your defense lawyer. The police can use any voluntary statement you make against you in court.
Can I win an acquittal if the police failed to read me my rights?
Maybe, but probably not. All this failure really means is that nothing you say to the police can be used against you until you are made aware of your right to remain silent. Prosecutors often win convictions without using this sort of evidence.
Can I win a dismissal if the stolen item was found on my person during an illegal search?
It is likely that you can. If the search was illegal, the prosecution cannot use the fact of your possession of the item against you in court. A dismissal is likely, unless the prosecution has another way of proving you guilty.
Contact Us Today for a Free Case Evaluation
Your choice of who will represent you in a criminal prosecution is perhaps the most important decision you will make in the entire case – and perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make in your entire life. As a small criminal defense firm, we will not pass of your case to “the junior associate,” because there are no such people at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices.
Instead, we will take your case just as seriously as if we were the ones being prosecuted, not you. We don’t play around with our clients’ lives, and we won’t let anyone else do that either. If you are being investigated for larceny, or if you have already been charged, call us at 505-375-4765 or complete our online contact form, so that we can schedule an appointment for a free initial case evaluation.