New Jersey Shoplifting Lawyer
Experienced Defense Against Theft Charges
Being arrested and charged with shoplifting is an embarrassing and shameful experience for the shoplifter. On top of the humiliation, a New Jersey shoplifter is confronted with the prospect of severe criminal consequences. A shoplifting conviction in New Jersey carries with it hefty fines, restitution, court costs, community service, and the very real possibility of incarceration. Plus, a shoplifting conviction is permanent and appears on one’s criminal record for the rest of their life. This can create enormous problems on the employment front, as most employers do not want to hire someone who is deemed a “crook” or “thief.”
With so much on the line, if you have been charged with a shoplifting offense, it is imperative that you consult with a skilled New Jersey shoplifting lawyer immediately. Mounting a proper defense makes all of the difference and can result in the wholesale dismissal of your case and a complete expungement of the charges from your criminal record.
The Crime and Penalties for Shoplifting in New Jersey
New Jersey law defines shoplifting as the taking of merchandise with the intent to permanently deprive the merchant of all or some of the retail value thereof. New Jersey statutes set forth various ways a person can be charged with shoplifting:
- By carrying away or transferring the merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of its possession;
- By concealing upon their person any merchandise with the intent of depriving the merchant of its possession;
- By transferring, altering, or removing the price tag with intention of depriving the merchant of all or some part of the merchandise’s value;
- By switching merchandise from one container to another with the intent of depriving the merchant all or some of its value; and
- By under-ringing the merchandise with the intent of depriving the merchant of its full retail value.
In New Jersey, a shoplifting conviction can result in either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the value of the merchandise at issue. Where the merchandise is valued at under $200, the crime is classified as a disorderly persons misdemeanor and the case is usually heard in a municipal court as they have jurisdiction over theft cases that where the amount in controversy is less than $200. Where the retail value of merchandise is greater than $200, but not greater than $500, it is a felony crime of the fourth degree. Shoplifting offenses involving merchandise valued at greater than $500, but not greater than $75,000, are felony crimes of the third degree; and offenses that involve merchandise that exceeds $75,000 are felony offenses of the second degree. All cases involving merchandise over $200 are indictable by the prosecutor and are typically heard in the County Criminal Court.
The criminal penalties for shoplifting also vary depending on the value of the on the merchandise at issue: for merchandise under $200 a person can face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000; for merchandise over $200 and not greater than $500, one can face up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000; for merchandise over $500 and not greater than $75,000 one can face between 3-5 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000; for merchandise greater than $75,000 one may face 5-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
In addition to the fines and punishments, New Jersey law includes mandatory community service for all shoplifting convictions as follows: for a first offense at least 10 days of community service; for a second offense at least 15 days; and for a third offense at least 25 days. The law also states that anyone convicted of three or more shoplifting offenses must serve a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail.
In addition to the criminal penalties, New Jersey also has a civil law penalty. The law allows storeowners to pursue civil penalties against shoplifters, and provides that the shoplifter must pay a $150 penalty to the store in addition to mandatory restitution for the value of the goods. In these proceedings, the store owner can also seek to have their attorney’s fees paid by the shoplifter.
There Is Hope
The legal and financial stakes are high when facing a shoplifting charge. The uncertain prospect of jail time and the robust fines can be downright stressful and unsettling to say the least. The public embarrassment you feel, and the anxiety that goes along with knowing that for the remainder of your life, you could have a criminal shoplifting conviction on your record can even be downright unbearable. Despite the fears and sense of impending doom, the good news is that a shoplifting arrest does not have to be the end of the world for you. Retaining an experienced New Jersey shoplifting lawyer substantially minimizes one’s criminal exposure and maximizes one’s chances of getting the best possible outcome they desire.
Our office is comprised of full-time criminal defense lawyers with years and years of experience handling New Jersey shoplifting cases just like yours. We understand how fearful and stressed you may be, and we aim to help take that feeling of utter panic out of your life. The first step is to take the time to sit down with us so we may answer any questions you have and explain to you exactly how the court process works. We will listen to your story and carefully go over every possible option and defense you have at your disposal.
Although everyone’s case is different, we have a strong track record of getting criminal shoplifting charges dismissed or reduced. Plus we have a history of excellent outcomes for first time offenders, as we understand just how important it is help ensure that their criminal record stays clean. In the typical first time offender case we are routinely successful in persuading the court to dismiss the case outright, or reducing the charges to a violation of a municipal ordinance. Although ordinance violations often do carry fines, they do not rise to the level of criminal misdemeanors thereby permitting one’s permanent criminal record to remain inviolate. And ordinance violations can be expunged after two years. In other cases we are able to secure PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) for our clients, which allows felony theft charges to be dismissed for first time offenders following the client’s successful completion of probation. Under PTI, the felony shoplifting charge may then later be expunged. Still in other cases, we are able to act as an intermediary between our client and the store, working out a restitution agreement in exchange for a dismissal of the case.
Contact Our Office Today
No matter your unique circumstances, there is hope and there are options. Your life is not over. Call today and sit down with us for a free consultation so that we can begin taking the stress and anxiety out of your life, and allow you to put this event behind you. We are here to help you move forward from your shoplifting charge so you don’t have to face the stigma of being labeled a convicted shoplifter forever.
With over 30 years of experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, New Jersey shoplifting lawyer Carl Spector will fight to protect your future and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Our rates are fair and reasonable and we fight tooth and nail for our clients, because we realize just how much there is at stake. We are experienced criminal lawyers who can help you. Let us take the stress and fear out of your life. Call us today.
Don’t pay for one mistake for the rest of your life. If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in New Jersey, contact New Jersey shoplifting lawyer Carl Spector for a free confidential consultation. Let his 30+ years of experience work for you.