Shoplifting occurs more often than people might think. According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, more than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the past five years, and even more disturbing is the statistic that there are 27 million shoplifters in the country. Moreover, these numbers continue to grow year after year – even in New Jersey, where there are severe penalties imposed against anyone convicted of shoplifting or retail theft. To speak with a top-rated shoplifting lawyer, please contact the Law Offices of Adam Lustberg today.
What Is “Shoplifting” in New Jersey?
While shoplifting is generally thought of as the removal of items from a store without paying for them, retail fraud in NJ constitutes a myriad of actions that include:
- Removing the original packaging and hiding it among other merchandise.
- Attempting to remove, or removing, security tags.
- Altering a price tag.
- Placing an item in your purse, pocket, or body while walking around the store.
Shoplifting Results in Severe Penalties in New Jersey
In New Jersey, a shoplifting charge, like most theft charges, can result in severe penalties, fines, and even jail time. Shoplifting merchandise with a combined retail value of less than $200 can result in a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail. Stealing more than $500 worth of merchandise is considered a third-degree crime and can result in 3-5 years of prison time and a fine of up to $15,000. The penalty for shoplifting more than $75,000 worth of merchandise is potential sentence of 5-10 years in NJ state prison. The judge may also require the convicted offender to pay restitution.
Additionally, owners of the retail establishments where the shoplifting occurred can sue the offender for damages in civil court. This includes the value of the merchandise in its original condition up to $500 if not returned, plus any damages that occurred in apprehending the shoplifter, and a $150 penalty.
While it is obvious that the penalties for shoplifting in New Jersey can be severe, first-time offenders may be able to gain entry into a diversion program to get the criminal charges dropped. This include community service or counseling. Upon successful completion of the diversionary program, the charges against the defendant are dropped.
Possible Defenses for Shoplifting Charges
There are several common defenses that New Jersey lawyers use in court for shoplifting charges. The first is establishing that there is a reasonable doubt that the police arrested the correct person. It is common to use this type of defense when security cameras are used since it can be difficult to identify specific characteristics of someone onscreen.
Your defense attorney can also use other defenses to show that the shoplifting wasn’t intentional. For example, your child got upset and you accidentally took your shopping cart out of the store. Perhaps you got a serious medical emergency and had to leave the shop quickly. In this case, you might have gotten distracted and walked out of the store without paying for the item. Your attorney will appreciate your honesty and transparency about the entire situation. They will have the most effective chance of creating a strong defense for you if they know the entire story.
If you are facing a shoplifting charge in New Jersey, it is important to seek the legal advice of an experienced shoplifting attorney right away. A lawyer may be able to help you understand your situation and help you prepare a defense for the court. Experienced lawyers are well-versed in dealing with shoplifting charges and they may be able to help you receive a favorable outcome.
Contact an Experienced Hackensack Shoplifting Attorney Today
Facing a shoplifting charge can have severe consequences, especially in New Jersey. This is why you need the expert advice of the legal team at Lustberg Law in Hackensack, NJ. Skilled Bergen County criminal defense attorney Adam M. Lustberg will fight for your rights and help you get back to your regular life. Contact the law firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.