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Middlesex County Shoplifting Lawyer

The criminal justice system can be intimidating. From being arrested to appearing in court, to dealing with an aggressive prosecutor, it is understandable that people get confused.

Being accused of any crime in East Brunswick, including shoplifting, can be frightening and overwhelming. However, a distinguished shoplifting lawyer can help. They can answer questions that many people have, including:

  • What does shoplifting mean?
  • What are the potential penalties?
  • What can an attorney do to help?

When a person is convicted of any offense, even shoplifting, it remains on that person’s criminal record. Do not take any unnecessary chances and contact a Middlesex County shoplifting lawyer today for help building a defense. 

Types of Shoplifting Offenses

Middlesex law concerning shoplifting is NJ Statute 2C:20-11. This act defines shoplifting as one of following actions:

  • Taking items from a store meaning to deprive the store of possession of the item without paying the full value
  • Hiding merchandise on their person with the intent to take it without paying the full value, even if they have not left the store
  • When a person transfers, changes, or removes a price tag in an attempt to purchase an item at a reduced price
  • Moving items held out for sale from its display to another display location with the intent to deprive the merchant of those items full value
  • When a person purposefully under-rings an item with the intent to not pay full price
  • Purposefully removing a shopping cart from the premises of a store

A simple way to look at shoplifting is when a person takes an item from a store without paying full price or hides the item in an attempt to steal it. Shoplifting offenses that can include changing price tags to a lesser price or using a shopping cart to take groceries home are less common.

Middlesex County shoplifting lawyers understand each of type of offense and can build a specially designed defense for a person’s particular case.

Potential Shoplifting Penalties

The penalties for shoplifting scale up as the amount alleged to have been stolen increases. New Jersey Statute 2C:20-11, subsection (c) describes this scale.

The higher the monetary value of the items stolen, the greater the potential penalty. It is important to note that the combined value of the total number of items taken is how the penalty is determined.

If a person is accused of stealing five computers worth $500 each, the charges will reflect $2,500 worth of items taken.

The most severe penalty, a crime of the Second degree, occurs upon a guilty finding of shoplifting in an amount over $75,000 or if committed as a part of a criminal enterprise, $1,000.

Impact of the Value of an Item

If the item is valued at under $75,000 but over $500, or is committed as a part of a criminal enterprise at a value under $1,000, the crime is of the Third degree. Fourth-degree crime occurs when the value of the item is above $200 but under $500. Any shoplifting conviction of a monetary value less than $200 is considered to be a disorderly person offense.

The least severe of these charges, a disorderly persons offense, carries a maximum sentence of six months jail time as described in New Jersey Statute 2C:43-8. 

The most severe charges are those of the second-degree, which carry penalties ranging from five to ten years in prison. A full list of the varying degrees of crimes in New Jersey can be found at NJ Statute 2C:43-6.

In addition to any potential jail time, the law requires that a person convicted to any shoplifting offense in East Brunswick perform no less than 10 days of community service. Additionally, the third conviction for shoplifting, regardless of degree, carries a mandatory 90-day jail term.

How a Lawyer Can Help

A shoplifting conviction, even a minor one, remains on a person’s criminal record. Additionally, the disorderly person's offense that accompanies a low-level shoplifting conviction carries up to six months in jail. Do not take a risk with your freedom.

Middlesex County shoplifting lawyers will examine every aspect of your case and determine the best defense for you. They will question witnesses and examine security footage to provide you with a well thought out and thorough defense. Contact today to see how an attorney in East Brunswick can help you.