New Jersey Shoplifting Lawyers

As NJ 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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Our New Jersey Shoplifting Lawyers Break It Down

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.

Penalties

As New Jersey shoplifting lawyers, we 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.

Immigration Consequences For Shoplifting

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.

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

Our NJ shoplifting lawyers 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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A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.