New Jersey Shoplifting Attorney
Representation from Clark & Clark, L.L.C.
Under New Jersey shoplifting laws, you could be found guilty of shoplifting if you are found in possession of a store's merchandise after exiting the store without paying for it. There is also a presumption under New Jersey law that you were shoplifting if the merchandise is concealed on your person. If this is the case, the evidence is certainly not stacked in your favor - however, that does not mean that your case is lost or that your intent doesn't matter. For example, if you put an item into your pocket to free your hands while wrestling with a toddler and forgot about the item, but you were not actually intending to steal the item, then under the law, you are not guilty of shoplifting.
It's important to remember that the burden is always on the state to prove that you are guilty, and that's why having one of our experienced trial attorneys on your case matters. A careful evaluation of the evidence - which often includes video surveillance, police reports, and store loss prevention reports as well as some specific personal facts about you that show you have no monetary need to steal - can provide a compelling defense or show a clear deficiency in the State's case. If you have been charged with shoplifting, our attorneys at Clark & Clark, L.L.C. can take the time to evaluate your case and work hard to protect your record and bring it to the most favorable conclusion for you.
Protecting Your Civil Rights in New Jersey
Store employees are allowed to detain someone for a reasonable amount of time if he or she is suspected of shoplifting while store security or the police are contacted, but they may not use unreasonable force to detain someone. Store clerks may not perform strip searches, and they must tell a person why he or she is being detained. In a juvenile shoplifting situation, other laws may also apply. Police can make an arrest if there is probable cause or reason to suspect someone of shoplifting. All our attorneys work hard to help people who are facing charges of shoplifting for any reason and to ensure that their civil rights were not violated.
What is shoplifting?
You should be aware that the following situations can be charged as shoplifting:
- Trying to cheat a store by tampering with price tags is shoplifting. The crime of shoplifting also includes switching price tags, or attempting to alter a price tag to avoid paying the price as marked by the merchant. You may also be charged with the crime of shoplifting if you remove an item from its package or container and put it into another package to try and avoid paying the true cost.
- There is a legal presumption regarding concealed items. Items found concealed on your person, in a bag, in a purse, or found in another container other than the product was originally in provide a basis for a legal presumption that you were shoplifting - even if you were taken into custody before leaving the store. Weather this presumption can be rebutted depends on the individual facts of each case, which we obtain during your initial free consultation with one of our shoplifting defense attorneys.
- Stealing a shopping cart is shoplifting. If you leave a store's property or parking lot with a shopping cart without intending to return it, you can also be charged with shoplifting.
- Under-ringing or undercharging for an item is shoplifting. If a store employee purposely undercharges a customer - say, a friend or family member - for an item, he or she can be found guilty of shoplifting.
What are the penalties for shoplifting in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, shoplifting penalties are related to the full retail value of the merchandise that was stolen:
- Disorderly persons offense - If the full retail value is less than $200, you can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to 6 months of imprisonment.
- Fourth-degree shoplifting - If the full retail value is between $200 and $500, you can be fined up to $10,000 and be sentenced to up to 18 months of imprisonment.
- Third-degree shoplifting - If the full retail value is more than $500 but less than $75,000, you can be fined up to $15,000 and sentenced to 3 to 5 years of imprisonment.
- Second-degree shoplifting - If the full retail value is $75,000 or more, you can be fined up to $150,000 and sentenced to 5 to 10 years of imprisonment.
Additional mandatory penalties for convictions of shoplifting include:
- For a first shoplifting offense, you can be sentenced to at least 10 days of community service.
- If you are convicted of a second shoplifting offense, you can be sentenced to at least 15 days of community service.
- If you are convicted a third time or more, you can receive up to 25 days of community service and imprisonment for not less than 90 days.
Shoplifting Defense from a Former Prosecutor
The theft crimes and shoplifting criminal defense attorneys of Clark & Clark understand the situation you are in. It may help to know that prosecutors aren't always as interested in sticking you in jail as they may sound. We should know. Our attorneys have more than 40 years combined legal experience - including many years as prosecutors, during which time we handled thousands of theft, burglary, and shoplifting charges.
Call Clark & Clark, L.L.C. today for a free consultation!
For a free case consultation with a New Jersey theft crime attorney, contact Clark & Clark today. Our full office staff - which includes our paralegal, secretary, and our office manager, who is fluent in Spanish - is here to assist you. Our office manager can even come to the jail to translate if necessary. We can explain charges and possible outcomes or even the process of expunging a shoplifting record. We know the system, we know the law, and we know how to bring your case to a favorable resolution for you. Call us today.