Justia Lawyer Rating
Best Attorneys of America
Super Lawyers
Superior DUI Attorney 2017
10 Best Law Firms
Top One Percent 2017
The National Trial Lawyers
Best of Thervo 2017
10 Best Law Firms
Criminal Defense Attorneys

Airport Courthouse, Shoplifting at LAX, NJP & Dismissal

In early October 2022, our client, age 21, was stopped by a store employee just outside the Brookstone store within Los Angeles International Airport.  The employee had watched our client walk past the checkout area with various products he had not paid for worth about $350.  

The store employee, employing what lawyers learn in law school as the “shopkeeper privilege,” detained our client while calling the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) police, who came and arrested our client for shoplifting (a violation of Penal Code § 459.5).  

Our client was then transported from the airport to the LAX police station, where he was booked and released after signing a promise to appear in the Airport Courthouse about four weeks later.  Our client, needless to say, missed his flight to Sacramento.

About three weeks later and a week before his arraignment, the client called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill about his arrest.  He described what had happened and explained that he had no prior criminal history.  He was an undergraduate student studying business at U.S.C.  

He described what had happened and said Brookstone had not yet mailed him a monetary demand to pay loss prevention fees.  Greg responded that such a letter may not be mailed to him because the store employee stopped our client, not a separate loss prevention employee as was commonly employed at a “Big Box” retailer like Target or Macy’s.  Greg told the client that if he did receive such a demand, to not pay the demand and just keep the letter and give it to Greg.  Such a demand, if paid, should be paid only if the prosecutor agreed that payment would help with dismissal of the case, if the case was even filed in court.

The client was quite anxious about serving time in jail and wanted to know what could happen to him.  Greg explained how such a case would be handled by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and how, before filing, it most likely would be referred to an office hearing or the Neighborhood Justice Program, or NJP.  Greg then explained to the client what an office hearing was and what the NJP was.  Greg explained that these were programs that, if successfully handled by the client, would mean the case would not be filed at all.

Greg explained that an office hearing was an informal meeting between the client and a senior Los Angeles City Attorney to discuss the incident and whether the client was remorseful enough to understand the gravity of the crime such that a criminal filing was not necessary.  Such a hearing could be in person, over the phone, or via Zoom.

The NJP, on the other hand, was a more formal meeting with several volunteer members from the community (“neighborhood”) who met either in person, or via Zoom, with the client to discuss the client’s poor judgment and what the client had learned from the experience.

Greg then explained what the client could give Greg to help Greg persuade the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office to refer the case to an office hearing or the NJP.  Greg suggested that the client should immediately enroll in and complete an online shoplifting prevention course, such as through Third Millennium, or if that is not available, through Logan Social Services, Tom Wilson Counseling Services or the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention.  When the client completed the class (which were typically three to four hours), the client would be issued a certificate of completion, which the client should forward to Greg by email and which Greg would then enclose with a letter to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office requesting an office hearing or NJP for the client.

Greg also requested proof that the client was enrolled at USC (for example a student ID) and a resume to demonstrate the client was an otherwise high-achieving individual whose poor judgement in shoplifting was an aberration.  The proof of taking the online shoplifting course would tend to suggest the client accepted responsibility for his conduct and was taking steps to ensure it never happened again and to better understand his crime.

The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates and immediately completed the online shoplifting prevention program.  He also sent Greg a copy of this student ID from USC and a short resume.

Greg then wrote a letter to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, enclosing such items, and requesting that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office refer our client to an office hearing or the NJP.

There was no response to the letter before the date for the client’s arraignment, so Greg went to the Airport Courthouse for the arraignment.  When he arrived at the court, Greg did not see the client’s name listed among those scheduled for a court hearing that morning.  Greg consequently went to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office to double-check on the case being filed against our client.

The clerk at the office advised Greg that our client had been selected for the Neighborhood Justice Program and gave Greg an assignment number and a phone number for our client to call to arrange for such a hearing.  The client was ecstatic at this news, as it would help him avoid having a criminal record, something he did not need stigmatizing him once he graduated from USC and sought to start his career in business.

For more information about shoplifting and the Neighborhood Justice Program, or NJP, please click on the following articles:
Client Reviews
"Thank you so much for putting so much effort in this case. We really appreciate it and we are happy that all turned out well." S.A., Torrance
"Greg Hill did an outstanding job on every level. He was efficient, thorough, knowledgeable, courteous, responsive & brilliant. He welcomed my input and my concerns. . . from the first conversation to the last - I always felt 'it mattered' to him." S.C., Rolling Hills Estates
"Thanks again for your hard work. We want you to know that we are very appreciative of all that you have done [on our son's] behalf. With warmest regards." L.H., Torrance
"Dear Greg, Thank you again for all your help. Your professionalism and thoroughness is greatly admired. I will definitely recommend you to my friends if they ever need legal help." V.L., Carson
"Thanks for investing in my case. I talked to other attorneys out there and they had an arms-length of attitude, but not you. Your intensity and interest helped a lot." C.R., Pomona