Shoplifting Laws and Penalties
If you have been charged with shoplifting, retail theft or any other kind of thievery, you may be facing a long, hard struggle to defend your actions and to keep your record clean. These types of offenses can lead to significant penalties — high fines, periods of probation or mandatory jail sentences — depending on the value of the allegedly stolen property or goods and the number of prior convictions. Still, all is not lost for those facing such charges. An experienced Hackensack criminal defense lawyer at the Gorman Law Firm can help you obtain the best outcome possible.
What Constitutes Shoplifting?
Shoplifting can be used to describe a wide variety of actions, not simply limited to taking merchandise or property without paying or permission. In New Jersey, a person who removes or changes price tags on merchandise, moves merchandise to a different location, causes merchandise to be rung up below their intended value or removes merchandise from a store or location with the intention of depriving the owner can be charged with shoplifting and theft. Additionally, any person who is caught hiding merchandise can be presumed to be shoplifting.
Shoplifting offenses in New Jersey are divided into categories by value and the nature of the offense. Within each category, certain minimum sentencing guidelines are assigned. The following information explains each category.
- Disorderly persons offense – a shoplifting charge involving stolen goods valued under $200. This can be penalized by up to six months in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- Fourth-degree crime – shoplifting or theft involving goods valued between $200 and $500. If convicted of these crimes, a person could face a maximum of 18 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-degree crime – shoplifting merchandise valued at $500-$75,000. This crime can result in a sentence of 3-5 years in jail and/or fines of up to $15,000.
- Second-degree crime – This is considered a crime involving the shoplifting of goods valued at $75,000 or greater. A person who has been convicted of such a crime could be behind bars for 5-10 years, and may be forced to pay fines up to $150,000.
In addition to these penalties, some shoplifting charges carry community service requirements. Usually, first-time offenders are sentenced to 10 days of service, while second-time offenders will face 15 days, and third-time offenders can receive up to 25 days. Also, any third or subsequent shoplifting conviction will result in a mandatory period of imprisonment of at least 90 days.
Some offenders may be able to mitigate their sentences by enrolling in diversionary programs or having their charges downgraded to lesser offenses. A criminal defense attorney with The Gorman Law Firm can also work to have the charges dismissed altogether.
Any shoplifting charge can be detrimental to your future, even if it is a minor charge for say, walking out of the store with a lipstick or other sundry item. Often, people who commit shoplifting crimes are not hardened criminals, but first-time offenders who have made a mistake. However, depending on the items involved and the severity of the offense, even first-time offenders may face serious jail time and high-dollar fines, not to mention criminal records that are difficult to escape.
A Hackensack Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
The Gorman Law Firm represents anyone who has been charged with criminal activity, including shoplifting and theft. For more information regarding shoplifting crimes and penalties in New Jersey, contact a Hackensack criminal defense lawyer at The Gorman Law Firm today.
Hackensack is the county seat of Bergen County. Serious criminal matters in Bergen County are heard in the Superior Court of New Jersey in the Bergen County Justice Center, which is located at 10 Main Street in Hackensack.
Less serious matters are handled at the Hackensack Municipal Court at 215 State Street or the Central Municipal Court of Bergen County at 71 Hudson Street.
To learn more about how Scott can give you the best opportunity to obtain a favorable outcome for your case in Hackensack, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.