If you steal merchandise from a store in New Jersey, you can be charged with shoplifting. Shoplifting is different from a crime like stealing from a register. If it is your first criminal charge, you may be able to get the charges reduced. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-11(b), shoplifting can occur in six different ways. Raymond A. Grimes is an experienced New Jersey shoplifting defense lawyer who can explain the options that may be available. He can help you decide whether it is appropriate to negotiate a plea deal or go to trial, and he can represent you in negotiations or the courtroom.Examples of Shoplifting
Shoplifting most commonly refers to taking merchandise out of a store without paying for it. However, it can also include altering a price tag to avoid paying the correct price or placing merchandise into a different container to avoid paying the correct price. Shoplifting can include purposely under-ringing with the intention of depriving the store of the full retail value of the goods. It can include taking a shopping cart from store premises without the store’s consent with the intent of permanently depriving the store of the benefit, use, or possession of the shopping cart.
Shoplifting can also be charged for hiding merchandise on your person within the store. If you purposely hide merchandise that you did not buy, you will be presumed to have concealed the merchandise with the intent of depriving the seller of the benefit, use, or possession of the merchandise without paying the full retail value. If the merchandise at issue is found among your belongings, that is considered evidence of your purposeful concealment of it.Degrees of Shoplifting
In most cases, a first offense shoplifting charge is related to an item that is not valuable. When shoplifted goods are worth less than $200, and it is a first offense, it is likely that the prosecutor will charge a disorderly persons offense. However, you should still consult a shoplifting defense attorney in New Jersey who can help you minimize the consequences.
Shoplifting is charged as a fourth-degree crime when the goods at issue are worth $200-$500. Shoplifting is a third-degree crime when the goods at issue are worth $500-$75,000, or when the goods are worth less than $1,000 and were stolen as part of a retail theft ring. You can be charged with a second-degree crime when the shoplifting involves goods worth $75,000 or more, or when they are worth more than $1,000 and were stolen as part of a retail theft ring.
The value of the merchandise that was shoplifted is aggregated to determine the degree of the crime when the acts or conduct that constituted shoplifting were perpetrated under a scheme or course of conduct or were perpetrated to further an organized retail theft enterprise.Penalties for Shoplifting
If you are convicted of a first shoplifting offense, you will be sentenced to a mandatory 10 days of community service. A second offense carries a mandatory 15 days of community service. A third offense carries a mandatory 90-day prison sentence and 25 days of community service.
The most harshly punished shoplifting offense is a second-degree crime. You should be especially careful to consult a New Jersey shoplifting defense attorney if you are facing this type of charge. If your shoplifting charge is a second-degree crime, you can face 5-10 years of incarceration and fines of up to $150,000. For shoplifting charged as a third-degree crime, you can face 3-5 years of incarceration and fines of up to $15,000. For shoplifting charged as a fourth-degree crime, you can face a maximum of 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
A disorderly persons offense can result in a sentence of a maximum of six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, for a disorderly persons offense, you may be able to go through a Pretrial Intervention Program. The program would allow you to avoid getting a conviction on your record if you participate in community service, crime education, and other activities and classes.Seek Guidance and Advocacy When Facing a Theft Charge
If you are concerned about shoplifting charges, you should retain a skillful criminal defense attorney. At the Grimes Law Firm, we represent people accused of shoplifting in Somerville, Neshanic Station, and communities throughout Somerset County and elsewhere in New Jersey. Call us at (908) 371-1066 or contact us via our online form to discuss your case with a shoplifting defense lawyer in New Jersey.