Conduct That Suggests You Are Shoplifting
The law that governs shoplifting in New Jersey is N.J.S. 2C:20-11. This law sets forth five (5) forms of conduct that constitute evidence that someone is shoplifting. The first scenario is where someone physically takes merchandise from a store. The second situation is where an individual conceals merchandise. Third, shoplifting will be signified where price tags are transferred or altered. The fourth variety of shoplifting under N.J.S. 2C:20-11 is where goods are transferred into another container (e.g. shopping bag). The fifth and final category is where someone under-rings merchandise or goods. It is important to keep in mind that the “indicia of shoplifting” that is triggered when someone does any one of these 5 things does not establish shoplifting — it is evidence of shoplifting that must be refuted by someone charged with the offense. If you didn’t intend to steal anything and it was an innocent mistake, you are not supposed to be found guilty under 2C:20-11. You will undoubtedly need a skilled shoplifting attorney, like those at our firm, to handle this issue, as well as to get you a favorable result where you are, in fact, guilty of stealing something.
Penalties If You Are Convicted of Shoplifting
The penalties you face for shoplifting hinge on the value of the merchandise/goods that were stolen. A theft of less than $200 is a disorderly persons offense. This is the variety of shoplifting which a local municipal court like the one in Millburn and Livingston would have jurisdiction to decide. When the merchandise is of higher value, the theft offense results in an indictable shoplifting charge — a felony. Shoplifting charges of this nature are heard at the Essex County Superior Court, Newark NJ. A fourth degree shoplifting, the lowest grade of indictable shoplifting offense, arises where the value of the merchandise is at least $200 but less than $500. It is third degree shoplifting if the value is at least $500 but less than $75,000. Second degree shoplifting covers all thefts involving a value of $75,000 or more.
• Fines. The maximum fine for a disorderly persons of offense is $1,000, $10,000 for a fourth degree crime, $15,000 for a third degree crime, and $150,000 for a second degree crime.
• Jail. A potential jail term of up to six (6) months applies to a disorderly persons offense for shoplifting and 18 months, 5 years and 10 years for a fourth degree crime, third degree crime and second degree crime respectively. There is a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than 90 days for someone who commits a third or subsequent shoplifting.
• Community Service. A person must perform at least 10 days for community service for a first offense, at least 15 days for a second offense, and not more than 25 days for a third offense.
• Additional Penalties. An individual faces certain mandatory court assessments if they are found guilty. These may also be required to serve a period of probation.
• Restitution. If you are found guilty of shoplifting, you are required to pay restitution and a $150 civil penalty to the store irrespective of whether it is your first offense, second offense or third or more offense.
While the possibility of these penalties exist under the law, our attorneys are often able to many of them. For example, our team is often able to get a felony shoplifting offense (i.e. 4th degree or higher) remanded to municipal court as a downgraded charge to a disorderly persons offense. This allows our clients to avoid significant penalties, including the possibility of a felony record, state prison term, and thousands of dollars in fines. In other cases, we are able to obtain an amendment of a charge or even a dismissal so that our client does not have a criminal record for shoplifting — an offense many employers are alarmed by as it manifests a level of dishonesty.
Diversion Programs for Shoplifting. Every lawyer on our staff is highly knowledgeable with two programs that allow an individual to avoid prosecution for a shoplifting. The first program is Pretrial Intervention and this applies to felony shoplifting charges that are handled at the Essex County Superior Court. The second program is Conditional Discharge and it permits and individual to avoid prosecution for a disorderly persons shoplifting offense in municipal court. The eligibility requirements for each program are stringent but our attorneys will ensure that you have the best opportunity for admission into the programs so that a criminal record can be avoided.
Experienced Millburn Shoplifting Lawyers Who Are Ready To Fight For You
Don’t let a stupid mistake have life changing ramifications to your future. Choose a firm with the experience and track record to insure you have every opportunity for a favorable outcome. Call us at 973-710-1520 to discuss your case free of charge or to set up an appointment in one of our Essex County Offices.