Shoplifting Lawyers

As shoplifting lawyers, it is our job to protect you against getting a criminal conviction. Shoplifting is a “theft” offense and this type of conviction will cut you off from countless jobs. When a potential employer learns that you were convicted of “stealing” something, it makes you like a person that cannot be trusted.

We will explain the different types of shoplifting, penalties, and legal defenses available.

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New Jersey Shoplifting Law NJSA 2C:20-11

1. Taking Merchandise

For any person purposely to take possession of, carry away, transfer or cause to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the full retail value thereof. 

In Plain English -

Taking merchandise is simply “outright stealing”. You grabbed an item with every intention of not paying for it.

2. Concealing Merchandise

For any person purposely to conceal upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the processes, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the value thereof. 

In Plain English -

This refers to a “first step” in stealing. You pocketed a lipstick while in the store so that you could easily walk out with it.

3. Altering Labels

For any person purposely to alter, transfer or remove any label, price tag or marking indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment and to attempt to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of all or some part of the value thereof.

In Plain English -

You take a $200 – watch and switch the label of a $50 – watch. Basically, you pay for it, but for a much lower price.

4. Transferring Items to Another Container

For any person purposely to transfer any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail merchandise establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the retail value thereof. 

In Plain English -

This happens at Home Depot all the time. Guys place expensive tools in cheap paint buckets. They pay for the paint bucket but intend to walk away with an expensive power tool.

5. Underringing Merchandise

For any person purposely to under-ring with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value thereof. This is a unique form of shoplifting because it applies to store employees. Specifically, an employee at a retail establishment can be charged with shoplifting if he or she rings an item or items at a value lower than that which is being offered by the retailer. 

In Plain English -

Your friend works the register at Macy’s and intentionally rings up a lower price for your expensive item.

6. Anti-Shoplifting Devices

If you walk into a store with a “booster bag” to fool the metal detector at the entrance, you may get arrested for a misdemeanor charge. There’s no other reason for having a booster bag unless you intend to “steal” from that store.

7. Penalties

The best shoplifting lawyers in New Jersey understand that these are difficult cases.
Retailers lose millions of dollars each year due to shoplifters.
As a result, if you are convicted of shoplifting, you face stiff penalties.
If the value of the merchandise is less than $200-, you are facing up to six months in jail & a one-thousand dollar fine.
Any type of theft in excess of $200- is a felony.
Please refer to the reference chart below to learn what you’re up against.

Immigration Consequences Following A Shoplifting Conviction

For immigration purposes, shoplifting offenses are classified as “crimes of moral turpitude”. This means that if you are not a United States citizen, and you are convicted of shoplifting, you may find yourself in Removal (deportation) Proceedings.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR), this means that you hold a green card. Again, if you get convicted of shoplifting, you may lose your green card very easily.

A theft conviction reflects poorly on your character. Some people argue that a “thief” is not to be trusted. As a result, your character may come into question during your immigration interview.

Immigration officials expect non-U.S. citizens making an application to live and work in the United States to be of high moral character. It doesn’t help to have a shoplifting conviction on your record.

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8. Legal Defenses & Strategies

The defense to a charge of shoplifting depends on the facts of the case, including the value of the goods stolen, the evidence against the accused, and other factors.

For example, if a teenage kid takes a five-cent piece of candy on his way out of a convenience store, the judge will look at his criminal record, age, maturity, and harm to the business owner and may decide to dismiss the case.

Now, if the same kid has been caught “stealing” a five-cent piece of candy many times from the same or different stores, it is clear that he likes to steal and will be fully prosecuted.

On the other hand, if a long-time customer at a supermarket claims that she inadvertently dropped expensive baby formula into her purse, we would rely on the surveillance footage to defend her claim.

The point is that each case must be evaluated carefully. Each case is different and legal defenses vary.

We represented a person with a mental defect who genuinely “did not intend” to steal. He thought the store items belonged to his family. When he grabbed a toy and put it in his pocket, he really believed that the toy always belonged to him.

Shoplifting and Conditional Dismissal or Pre-Trial Intervention

Avoid a Shoplifting Conviction with a diversionary program

If you are a first time offender, then depending on the type of charge, you may qualify for probation.

For example, if you are facing a misdemeanor (disorderly persons) charge, then you can apply for a Conditional Dismissal.

Now, if you are facing a felony (indictable offense) charge, then you can apply for Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI).

Here’s a great article to help you learn about PTI.

Pre-Trial Intervention: Everything You Need To Know In 5 Minutes!

Our Approach

As shoplifting lawyers, we are committed to fighting for you. You will benefit from our extensive trial experience.
Most importantly, we will be honest about your chances of winning your case. We never guarantee results. However, we absolutely guarantee that we will aggressively fight for you!

Your Shoplifting case is as important to us as it is to you. Your freedom is on the line. Each case is different and we welcome the opportunity to protect & defend you.

When you hire us, you will get complete access to us. We respond to all communications & really care about our clients. Our fees are reasonable and we offer payment plans. 

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