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Shopkeeper’s Privilege in New York

A few years ago — 2016, it appears — I put out a video on my Youtube channel about the Shopkeeper’s Privilege in California. Here’s the video.


This post will go over the Shopkeeper’s Privilege as it exists in New York. Like California, New York’s Shopkeeper’s Privilege is also statutory. The governing New York statute is Section 218 of the New York General Business Law.

Section 218 provides that if a defendant is sued for “false arrest, false imprisonment, unlawful detention, defamation of character, assault, trespass, or invasion of civil rights” by a person detained at a retail establishment, the defendant may raise as a defense that the plaintiff was detained in a reasonable manner and for not more than a reasonable time to permit such investigation or questioning by a police officer or an owner or employee of the retail establishment and that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the plaintiff being detained had committed a theft. (Note: I am paraphrasing this somewhat due to length. If you’re going to actually use the statute (e.g. in court), do always take a look at the section’s actual text first).

If you compare this to how California’s Shopkeeper’s Privilege works (see California Penal Code section 490.5(f)), you should see similarities.

As always, this post is meant to only briefly go over a singular topic. If the Shopkeeper’s Privilege — either the California or New York one — please do additional research before proceeding and do not rely on just this blog post. Lastly, I’ll repeat again as I do at the end of every post related to New York law : As of the date of this post, I do not maintain a physical office in New York state and, thus, under New York Judiciary Law Section 470, I do not take cases in New York state. If you need a referral to a lawyer who is actually in New York state, I am happy to make a referral if I at all can.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

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