Clark, NJ Shoplifting Attorneys
We are Clark, NJ shoplifting lawyers. We have successfully represented clients for over 20 years in the Clark Municipal Court and Union County Superior Court charged with SHOPLIFTING in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C: 20-11b(1). An arrest and conviction for shoplifting will be on your record for 3 to 5 years and could prevent you from obtaining employment, becoming a citizen or obtaining a green card. This is why we take these case so seriously. Being labeled a thief is something that can follow you for a long time and have very serious consequences. We provide a free consultation and will answer all your questions. We understand the stress you may be feeling and will take the time to necessary to give you the best advice.
Shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense if the full retail value of the merchandise is less than two hundred dollars. Shoplifting is a fourth degree crime if the full retail value of the merchandise exceeds two hundred dollars but is less than five hundred dollars; a third degree crime if the full retail value of the merchandise exceeds five hundred dollars but is less than seventy five thousand dollars; and it is a second degree crime if the full retail value of the merchandise is seventy five thousand dollars or more.
If your case is in Municipal court it is because the value of the merchandise was under $200.
The statute provides in order to be found guilty of shoplifting, the State must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- defendant purposely took possession of/ carried away any merchandise displayed, held, or offered for sale by a commercial establishment; and
- the commercial establishment was a store or other retail mercantile establishment; and
- defendant took possession with the purpose of depriving the merchant of the possession, use, or benefit of the merchandise without paying the full retail value of the merchandise. “Merchandise” means any goods, foodstuffs or wares of any type and description, regardless of their value.
Your conduct is considered purposeful if it is your conscious objective to engage in that conduct or to cause such a result. For example, if you want to take an item without paying for it and you hide it in your jacket pocket then your conduct is purposeful. Purpose and knowledge are states of mind. A state of mind is typically deduced from the surrounding facts not from direct proof.
To “possess” an item under the law, you must have a knowing, intentional control of that item along with knowing that the item is in your possession. Possession cannot merely be a passing or fleeting control. Instead, to “possess” an item, you must knowingly obtain or receive an item or be aware of your control of the item for a sufficient period of time to have been able to relinquish your control if you chose to do so.
It is also very important to understand that you do not have to physically have the item on your person at the time of your arrest if at some time prior to your arrest you had control over it.
Shoplifting in not to be taken lightly. It is one of very few disorderly persons offenses in NJ that requires a mandatory 90 day jail term if it is your third conviction.
Other penalties for the disorderly persons offense include for a fine of up to $500 for the first and second offenses and up to $1000 for the third offense. Other fines and fees may be imposed including a civil penalty of $150 that the merchant can demand and pursue in civil court if not paid. In addition to the monetary penalties, the first conviction will result in at least 10 ten days of community service; at least 15 days for a second conviction and a maximum of 25 days plus no less than 90 days in jail for the third conviction.
It should be evident that a shoplifting conviction is very serious. An expungement cannot be sought for five years after the completion of any imposed sentence. During this time a criminal history check will show this conviction and affect any job you hold or may apply for or even any volunteer positions that require a criminal history check.
An experienced criminal Attorney will look at the evidence, perhaps video tapes or statements to determine if there really was possession or an obvious intent to deny the merchant payment. Plea deals are difficult in these cases but if the evidence can be marginalized a downgrade to a town or city ordinance is available. This may incur a higher fine but avoid a charge of theft on your criminal history. Allow me look at your case and discuss with you how I can help you deal with your shoplifting charges.