Paramus Shoplifting Attorney
Defense Lawyers for Theft Charges in Bergen County, New Jersey
Shoplifting is a criminal offense in New Jersey and can be punishable as a felony or a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) depending on the amount of the alleged theft. In addition, shoplifting is considered a “crime of moral turpitude” which can cause serious immigrations issues for defendants who are not citizens of the United States. Travis J. Tormey is an experienced shoplifting defense attorney who has handled countless shoplifting cases in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey. In fact, Mr. Tormey was featured in the Daily Record in Morris County regarding several shoplifting cases he handled and the immigration consequences and penalties involved. If you or a loved one has been charged with shoplifting in Paramus, Hackensack, Mahwah, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Elmwood Park, Teaneck, or elsewhere in Bergen County, contact The Tormey Law Firm anytime at (201)-330-4979 for immediate assistance. This consultation is provided free of charge. You can also contact us online to arrange a free consultation with a skilled NJ shoplifting defense lawyer.
Understanding Shoplifting Charges in New Jersey from a Legal Standpoint
New Jersey Shoplifting Offenses in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11
Shoplifting offenses in New Jersey are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11, which provides, in pertinent part:
§ 2C:20-11. Shoplifting
b. Shoplifting. Shoplifting shall consist of any one or more of the following acts:
(1) 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.
(2) 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.
(3) 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.
(4) 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.
(5) For any person purposely to under-ring with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value thereof.
(6) For any person purposely to remove a shopping cart from the premises of a store or other retail mercantile establishment without the consent of the merchant given at the time of such removal with the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such cart.
Penalties for Shoplifting in New Jersey
Shoplifting in New Jersey can be an indictable criminal offense or a disorderly persons offense, depending on the amount of the alleged theft. If the amount of the alleged theft is $200.00 or less, the case will be handled in the municipal court in the municipality in which the alleged offense occurred. If the amount of the alleged theft is between $200.00 and $500.00, this is a fourth degree indictable criminal offense in New Jersey, which is punishable by up to 18 months in state prison. If the amount of the alleged theft is between $500.00 and $75,000.00, this is a third degree shoplifting offense in New Jersey, punishable by up to five (5) years in state prison. Finally, if the amount of the theft is greater than $75,000.00, this is a second degree shoplifting offense in New Jersey, punishable by up to ten (10) years in state prison.
It is also important to note that the value of the merchandise may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense. This occurs where the acts or conduct constituting a violation were committed in furtherance of one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same person or several persons, or were committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise.
In addition to the specific consequences based on the degree of shoplifting crime, there are also presumptions that apply. Specifically, fourth degree and third degree shoplifting felony offenses have a presumption of non-incarceration for first time offenders. This is also true for disorderly persons shoplifting when the person has never been convicted of an offense before. On the other hand, a second degree charge has a presumption of incarceration, meaning it is assumed that the defendant should be sentenced to jail if convicted. Now, fortunately this does not necessarily need to occur. A skilled defense lawyer can often get the charges reduced to mitigate or minimize the punishments and depending on the level, you may be able to use a program like Conditional Dismissal or Pre-Trial Intervention to get the charges dismissed.
Immigration Issues from Shoplifting Charges
There is such a thing in New Jersey known as a crime of moral turpitude, which can cause immigration problems for those charged with and convicted of these offenses. Shoplifting falls into the category of moral turpitude crimes, meaning it can be a major hurdle to your citizenship or status if you are not yet a United States citizen. Often, people are shocked to learn that something is reasonably minor as a disorderly persons shoplifting offense can present such a significant issue for an entirely unrelated area of life. Nevertheless, a conviction may affect the state’s ability to deport you or deny your citizenship altogether. It could also impact your Visa. Although there are varying definitions of what exactly a crime of moral turpitude can be, these offenses are generally understood to be those in which the actor knowingly or intentionally commits a wrongful act. Other theft and fraud offenses also fall within this overarching definition.
Shoplifting Community Service Requirements
Depending on whether it is a first, second, third, or subsequent shoplifting offense, community service requirements vary. The duration of community service increases as the number of prior offenses goes up. Specifically, a first offense is punished by at least ten days of community service. As for a second offense, the minimum number of community service days increases to 15. Lastly, for those convicted of third and subsequent shoplifting crimes, a maximum of 25 days of community service may be imposed, Moreover, any person convicted of a third or subsequent shoplifting charge must serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 90 days.
Juvenile Shoplifting Offenses in Bergen County, NJ
Juveniles can be charged with shoplifting offenses just as adults can. When a juvenile under the age of 18 is charged with shoplifting, the case is handled in a different court. In particular, juvenile offenses are sent to the Bergen County Superior Court, Family Division to be heard and decided. Based on the age and other relevant factors, the sentence may differ; however, the same statute for shoplifting applies with the same merchandise and degree gradation. In addition, depending on the degree of crime for which the juvenile is taken into custody, there may be various options to resolve the case. For instance, juveniles may be eligible for deferred dispositions and other alternatives to conviction that allow them to maintain a clean record. Another notable difference may be that the juvenile can serve time in a juvenile detention facility if convicted. You should consult our experienced shoplifting defense lawyers if you are in need of help with a juvenile theft matter.
If You Have a Child with You when Shoplifting
If your child was with you when you allegedly committed a shoplifting offense, a charge for shoplifting could be the least of your worries. Prosecutors may decide to bring additional criminal charges for endangering the welfare of a child. Under New Jersey law, a person can be charged with endangering the welfare of a child if they commit criminal neglect with respect to a child for whom they have legal responsibility and/or a duty of care. Authorities may determine that bringing your child with you to commit a shoplifting offense is a form of child abuse and neglect, which is usually classified as a fourth degree felony and carries a possible sentence of 18 months in state prison. Moreover, not only could a conviction on child endangerment charges put you at risk of being sentenced to significant prison time, but you could also lose custody of your child if convicted or at the very least, be forced to deal with an investigation by the Division of Child Protection & Permanency. Beyond that, judges often come down very hard on defendants in these cases in order to send a message that it’s not okay to expose young children to risky behaviors.
Being Detained for Suspected Shoplifting
Defendants accused of shoplifting may be detained by store employees based on probable cause of shoplifting. Probable cause in shoplifting cases can be evidence of stolen goods, video footage of the shoplifting, etc. Probable cause means that it is reasonable to conclude that shoplifting took place. As such, store employees may reasonably detain an individual. If you have questions about the legality of your shoplifting detainment, contact our experienced shoplifting defense lawyers now.
Defending a Shoplifting Case in NJ
There are a number of defenses our criminal defense lawyers use to beat shoplifting cases in New Jersey including:
- Shoplifting Defense Strategy #1: Facts or Circumstances Defense
- Shoplifting Defense Strategy #2: Failure of Witness to Show up in Court
- Shoplifting Defense Strategy #3: Failure to Provide Discovery
- Shoplifting Defense Strategy #4: Plea Negotiations
Consult a Hackensack Shoplifting Defense Attorney Today
Shoplifting can have serious consequences if you are convicted. If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Bergen County, New Jersey, do not wait to contact The Tormey Law Firm at (201)-330-4979 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney who can help you formulate the best defense.