Shoplifting is a common criminal charge in New Jersey, and shoplifting arrests are particularly common during the holiday season. While it might seem like a minor offense, shoplifting can carry severe penalties under New Jersey law. With this in mind, if you’ve been arrested, you need to take your situation very seriously, and you should talk to an Essex County criminal defense attorney right away. Here are some more important facts you need to know:
Shoplifting is a Felony-Level Offense in Many Cases
Shoplifting charges are determined based on the value of the merchandise stolen (or allegedly stolen). While shoplifting less than $200 worth of merchandise is a “disorderly persons offense” (comparable to a misdemeanor in other states), shoplifting more than $200 worth of merchandise is an “indictable crime” (comparable to a felony).
This means that if you are being accused of stealing a tablet, smartwatch, sunglasses, jewelry or anything else worth $200 or more, you are minimally facing up to a $10,000 fine and 18 months in prison. If you are being accused of stealing more than $500 in merchandise, you are facing a $15,000 fine and 3 to 5 years behind bars.
You Don’t Have to Leave the Store to Be Guilty of Shoplifting
Many people assume they are okay as long as they got caught before they left the store. This is not the case. Concealing merchandise, removing or swapping tags, and unboxing items in an attempt to steal them are all considered forms of shoplifting under New Jersey law. Store clerks can also face shoplifting charges if they intentionally under-ring merchandise for their friends or family.
You Must Attend Your “First Appearance” in Court
After you get arrested for shoplifting, you will have a First Appearance scheduled within 48 hours. You must attend—and you should do so with your Essex County criminal defense attorney. If you miss your First appearance, the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest, and this could lead to you being held in detention until your trial.
You May Have Several Options to Avoid a Conviction
There are several potential defenses to shoplifting; and, even if you committed a crime, you could be eligible for one of New Jersey’s diversionary programs. If you enter into (and successfully complete) a diversionary program, your shoplifting charge will be dismissed.
If you hire an Essex County criminal defense attorney, your attorney may also be able to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf. Of course, you should only consider this option if you don’t have a way to avoid a conviction entirely. Your attorney can help you thoroughly evaluate all of your options and make informed decisions about your defense.
Talk to an Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney for Free
If you’ve been arrested for shoplifting, Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman can help. Call 201-489-9199 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation as soon as possible.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense