Your Rights When Accused of Shoplifting in New Jersey

If you or someone you know has been charged with shoplifting in New Jersey, understanding your rights and the legal processes involved is crucial. Shoplifting charges can have severe consequences, impacting not just your immediate future but also your long-term prospects due to a potential criminal record.

At Shugar Law Office, our criminal defense attorneys specialize in navigating New Jersey’s confusing legal system, ensuring that those accused of a shoplifting offense receive a good defense. Here, we’ll discuss what charges someone may face if they’re caught shoplifting.

Understanding Shoplifting Offenses in New Jersey

Shoplifting in New Jersey includes various acts beyond simply taking merchandise from a retail establishment without paying. It includes altering price tags, transferring merchandise to different containers, under-ringing products, and even possessing stolen goods. Any of these acts is considered against the law and are punishable with fines, community service, probation, and even incarceration.

Shoplifting Offenses and Their Classification in New Jersey

Disorderly Persons Offenses:

  • Value Less Than $200: Shoplifting merchandise valued at less than $200 falls under a disorderly persons offense. Convictions may result in up to six months in jail, fines up to $1,000, and at least 10 days of mandatory community service for a first disorderly persons shoplifting offense. Subsequent offenses may lead to increased community service requirements.

Indictable Offenses:

  • Fourth-Degree Offense (Value $200 – $500): Shoplifting items valued between $200 and $500 upgrades the charge to a fourth-degree indictable offense. This can lead to up to 18 months in state prison, fines up to $10,000, and mandatory community service. It represents a significant escalation in the seriousness of the charge and the potential penalties upon conviction.
  • Third-Degree Offense (Value $500 – $75,000): When the full retail value of the stolen merchandise is between $500 and $75,000, the charge is classified as a third-degree offense. Convictions can result in three to five years in state prison and fines up to $15,000, reflecting the increased severity of the crime.
  • Second-Degree Offense (Value Exceeds $75,000): The most severe shoplifting charge, involving merchandise valued over $75,000, is treated as a second-degree indictable offense. This can lead to five to ten years in state prison and fines up to $150,000. Second-degree offenses are treated with the utmost seriousness, reflecting the high value of the merchandise involved.

Additional Considerations:

  • Third or Subsequent Offense: New Jersey law mandates increasingly severe penalties for repeat offenses, including longer jail times, higher fines, and extended periods of mandatory community service.
  • Special Categories: Certain circumstances, such as organized retail theft or causing bodily injury during a shoplifting incident, can escalate the severity of charges and penalties, regardless of the merchandise value.
  • Restitution and Civil Penalties: Beyond criminal penalties, individuals convicted of shoplifting may also be required to pay restitution to the victim retailers and could face civil penalties between $100 and $500.

A shoplifting conviction in New Jersey carries substantial penalties that can have a lasting impact on an individual’s life, including their employment, housing opportunities, and overall reputation. It’s crucial for anyone facing shoplifting charges to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, such as those at Shugar Law Office, to navigate the legal system and explore all available defense strategies.

Your Rights When Accused

When facing shoplifting charges in New Jersey, you have specific rights designed to protect you:

  • Right to Remain Silent: You are not obligated to speak to store employees, security officers, or police about the alleged incident.
  • Right to an Attorney: You have the right to consult with a shoplifting lawyer in NJ to discuss your case and explore your defense options.
  • Right to a Fair Trial: You are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Your criminal defense attorney can challenge the prosecution’s evidence, argue for the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence, and advocate for your acquittal.

Legal Defenses and Strategies

An experienced criminal defense attorney can employ various strategies to defend against shoplifting charges:

  • Challenging the Evidence: Examining the validity of the evidence against you, including the actions of store employees and the reliability of surveillance footage.
  • Disproving Intent: Demonstrating that there was no intent to steal, which is a crucial element of shoplifting offenses.
  • Negotiating Plea Agreements: In some cases, it may be in your best interest to negotiate a plea agreement that could result in reduced charges or alternative sentencing options like Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) for first-time offenders.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Facing a shoplifting charge in New Jersey without an experienced criminal defense attorney can be potentially life-altering. At Shugar Law Office, our team has a proven track record of successfully defending clients against shoplifting and other retail theft charges. Whether it’s getting a shoplifting charge dismissed, downgraded, or arguing for the expungement of a New Jersey shoplifting conviction, we are dedicated to providing the best possible defense for our clients.

  • Personalized Legal Strategies: Every shoplifting case is unique. We tailor our defense strategies to the specifics of your case, ensuring the best possible outcome.
  • Negotiating with Prosecutors: With extensive experience in New Jersey shoplifting laws, we negotiate effectively with prosecutors to reduce or dismiss charges.
  • Guidance Through the Legal Process: We provide comprehensive guidance throughout the legal process, from arraignment to trial or settlement, ensuring you understand your rights and options at every step.

Contact Shugar Law Office Today!

Being accused of shoplifting in New Jersey can be a stressful and frightening experience. However, with the right legal representation, you can navigate the complexities of the legal system and fight for a favorable outcome. 

If you or a loved one is facing shoplifting charges, contact Shugar Law Office today to speak with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and future.

Contact Our Experienced Traffic & Criminal Defense Team for a Free Consultation Today!