New Jersey Shoplifting Defense Lawyers
Reputable Criminal Defense Lawyer Defends Clients Arrested on Shoplifting Charges in Essex County, Union County, Morris County, Middlesex County, Bergen County and Somerset County, NJ
If you or a loved one have been arrested for shoplifting, you may initially feel that the embarrassment and humiliation involved in being caught shoplifting is the most serious aspect of the crime. Unfortunately, New Jersey takes shoplifting offenses seriously, and, depending upon the value of the merchandise in question, you may quickly find that you’re facing much more serious criminal consequences than you had anticipated—you may even be facing years in prison and thousands of dollars’ worth of monetary fines. Shoplifting may not be a violent crime, but it is still a serious offense that must be handled with skill.
At Zegas Law, our experienced Morris County shoplifting defense lawyers have skillfully helped hundreds of clients minimize the potential criminal consequences after being arrested for shoplifting. A well-formed defense strategy can make all the difference in your case, so it is critical that you choose a defense lawyer with both the legal skills and practical experience necessary to successfully navigate these often-complicated cases. We consider all aspects of your case in order to build the most compelling defense strategy possible to help you put your shoplifting charges in the past.
If you have questions about potential defense options in a shoplifting case, call us today for a confidential consultation with one of our skilled criminal defense lawyers.
Understanding the Legal Meaning of Shoplifting in Northern New Jersey
New Jersey laws define shoplifting, or retail theft, as one of several types of actions, including:
- Carrying or transferring property out of the establishment with the intent of depriving the store owner of the full retail value of the property,
- Concealing merchandise with the intent of depriving the store owner of its possession,
- Altering, transferring or removing the price tag on an item with the intent of paying less than its full value,
- Transferring merchandise between containers with the intent of paying less than an item’s actual value,
- Under-ringing merchandise in a store in order to pay less than full value for an item.
Penalties For Shoplifting Charges in New Jersey
While the penalties for shoplifting offenses involving relatively low-value items (under $200) are relatively minor because the crime is prosecuted as a disorderly persons offense at that level, when more valuable items are involved the penalties escalate in severity dramatically. However, even a conviction for a disorderly persons offense can result in up to six months in jail if the judge sees fit and the value of all items that you have been accused of shoplifting are combined in determining how the crime will be prosecuted. Based upon the value of the stolen items, the potential penalties include:
- Five to ten years in prison, plus up to $150,000 in fines, if the stolen items were valued at more than $75,000 (a second-degree crime).
- Three to five years in prison, plus fines up to $15,000, if the merchandise was valued at more than $500, but less than $75,000 (a third-degree crime).
- 18 months in prison, plus fines up to $10,000, if the merchandise was valued at more than $200 but not greater than $500 (a fourth-degree crime).
Community service requirements will also apply and will vary based upon whether you have ever been convicted of shoplifting in the past. In cases where you have been convicted of at least three shoplifting offenses, you will be required to serve at least 90 days in jail regardless of the value of the items in question.
One of the more serious “ancillary” penalties for a shoplifting conviction involves the damage to your reputation that a theft-related crime can generate. Potential employers may view you in a negative light when they learn you have been convicted of shoplifting and a conviction can even make professional licensing more difficult.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation to Discuss Your Options Today
At Zegas Law, our reputable Union County shoplifting defense lawyers always take the time to sit down with you so that we can understand what happened in your specific case. The severity of the penalties that will be imposed in many shoplifting cases turns on circumstances, and our lawyers are dedicated to getting to know you so that we can frame your case in the most advantageous light possible. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss options in your case, call us today or fill out this online contact form.
Frequently Asked Questions About North Jersey Shoplifting Charges
FAQ: Are there any options that can help me avoid some of the more serious criminal penalties if this is my first offense?
Yes. In some cases, we may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to have your charges reduced to a lesser ordinance violation or even have the charges dismissed depending upon the circumstances. New Jersey’s pre-trial intervention program also provides an option that can allow first offenders in non-violent criminal cases avoid formal prosecution and conviction upon successful completion of a period of supervised probation. You may be required to complete counseling, community service and satisfy various other requirements as the judge sees fit, but you also may be able to avoid a criminal record. After a period of time has passed, we can also help you clear any arrest or charges from your record through the expungement process.
FAQ: Why is it important to fight my shoplifting charges even though this was my first offense and the value of the items involved were very low?
It’s important to fight any criminal charges because of the potential impact on a future case if you are once again brought into the criminal justice system. In shoplifting cases, the penalties you will face will increase in severity if you have any prior convictions—meaning that you will spend more time in jail for the later offense and will be subject to longer community service terms. Further, potential employers, landlords, banks and others will be able to access your criminal record and see the shoplifting conviction even if it was a first offense.