Monmouth County Shoplifting Lawyer

One common question that people often have about shoplifting is, “How was I charged with shoplifting? I did not even take anything out of the store.” New Jersey laws concerning shoplifting are far more detailed than most people think.

While many people know that taking an item out of a store without paying for it is considered shoplifting, the truth is that there are other definitions of shoplifting.

An experienced Monmouth County shoplifting lawyer will work with clients to better understand shoplifting charges. A knowledgeable criminal lawyer in Monmouth County will examine every aspect of the case to determine the best means of defending clients in court.

Defining the Charge

As mentioned above, taking merchandise from a store without paying for it is certainly shoplifting. However, New Jersey Statute 2C:20-11 contains five other definitions of shoplifting that are just as serious.

  • Hiding an item with the intent to steal it, even if a person never leaves the store
  • Moving price tags to different items or altering a price tag to show a different price
  • Transferring items around the store in an attempt to pass off one item as another item of lesser value
  • Under-ringing an item at a self-checkout stand
  • Taking a shopping cart off store property

The first example, hiding an item with the intent to steal it, is the most common of these offenses. Here, a prosecutor must prove not only that a person hid the item, but that this hiding was done with the intent to steal.

The Monmouth County shoplifting lawyer will examine the evidence in a client’s case to determine if this intent can be demonstrated in court.

Potential Penalties

Any conviction of shoplifting is a criminal offense. This means that the conviction appears on that person’s criminal record. The penalties for shoplifting are as varied as the definition. The most serious of these offenses is classified as a second-degree crime while the least severe is a disorderly persons’ offense. The categories are listed in New Jersey Statute 2C:20-11, subsection (c) and include:

  • The most severe penalty, a crime of the 2nd 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
  • 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 3rd degree
  • A 4th degree crime occurs when the value of the item is above $200 but under $500
  • Lastly, any shoplifting conviction of a monetary value less than $200 is considered to be a disorderly persons’ offense

It is important to remember that the category of the offense is determined by the total value of the shoplifted items. For example, if a person hides four watches in their coat, each worth $500 -- this total is $2,000 worth of merchandise. As a result, this person may be charged with shoplifting of the third-degree. A shoplifting attorney in Monmouth County can assist an individual in best understand these nuances.

Also, any shoplifting conviction carries a minimum of 10 days required community service. If a person is convicted of three instances of shoplifting, there is also a required jail term of no less than 90 days, regardless of degree.

The least serious of these categories, the disorderly persons offense defined in New Jersey Statute 2C:43-8, carries a maximum of six months in jail. The most serious, a second-degree crime, carries a potential of five to 10 years in prison. The exact crimes and attached penalties can be found in NJ Statute 2C:43-6, and can be best defended with the assistance of a shoplifting lawyer in Monmouth County.

Contact an Attorney

Being arrested for shoplifting can be a confusing and intimidating situation. From being accused of a crime, to going to court, to dealing with an aggressive prosecutor, the process is complex. It is important to not take any chances with your personal freedom.

A seasoned Monmouth County shoplifting attorney will examine every aspect of your case, talk to witnesses, and examine security footage to provide you with a custom fit defense to your particular case.