NJ Shoplifting Lawyers – New Jersey Shoplifting Attorneys – N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 – Shoplifting Defense Lawyers NJ
Fighting Shoplifting Charges in Bergen, Morris, and Essex County NJ
If you have been arrested for shoplifting in New Jersey, what begins as an ordinary day can quickly spiral into a nightmare. Not only is shoplifting a criminal offense in New Jersey, which can range from a disorderly persons offense to a second degree felony, it is also what is known as a “crime of moral turpitude,” which can adversely impact your immigration status if you are not a U.S. citizen. Even the most minor NJ shoplifting charge can result in a fine of up to $1,000, probation, community service, up to 6 months in the county jail, and a conviction on your criminal record. Sometimes, people are surprised to find out that shoplifting doesn’t necessarily involve removing merchandise from a store. In fact, you can face shoplifting charges for removing a tag or label, underringing items for yourself or someone else, or moving merchandise to another container if the State believes you intended to remove it from the premises without paying for it.
Fortunately, you have the right to mount a compelling defense against shoplifting charges. What you need is a knowledgeable and experienced shoplifting defense attorney who can work to have your charges downgraded or dismissed altogether. Travis J. Tormey is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has handled shoplifting cases for years in counties throughout New Jersey. He and his team at The Tormey Law Firm regularly appear in Superior and Municipal Courts in Paramus, Hackensack, Millburn, Newark, Rockaway, and Morristown. In fact, Mr. Tormey was featured in the Daily Record in Morris County regarding several shoplifting cases he handled because of the immigration consequences and penalties involved. For more information about New Jersey shoplifting charges, this page is an excellent resource. For a free consultation about the specific circumstances of your shoplifting case in New Jersey, contact our offices at (201)-556-1570 today.
“We handle shoplifting cases in New Jersey regularly. If you have just been arrested, there are ways that we can fight your case.”
New Jersey Shoplifting Charges: N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11
As mentioned above, there are a variety of offenses that may constitute shoplifting under New Jersey law. There are actually 6 separate acts that can expose you to charges and prosecution for shoplifting, as explained below. Shoplifting offenses in New Jersey are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 which provides in pertinent part:
§ 2C:20-11. Shoplifting
b. Shoplifting. Shoplifting shall consist of any one or more of the following acts:
(1) For any person purposely to take possession of, carry away, transfer or cause to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the full retail value thereof.
(2) For any person purposely to conceal upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the processes, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the value thereof.
(3) For any person purposely to alter, transfer or remove any label, price tag or marking indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment and to attempt to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of all or some part of the value thereof.
(4) For any person purposely to transfer any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail merchandise establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the retail value thereof.
(5) For any person purposely to under-ring with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value thereof.
(6) For any person purposely to remove a shopping cart from the premises of a store or other retail mercantile establishment without the consent of the merchant given at the time of such removal with the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such cart.
*NOTE: In New Jersey, it is also a disorderly persons offense to possess or use any anti-shoplifting device within a store.
What are the Penalties for Shoplifting in New Jersey?
Shoplifting in New Jersey can be an indictable criminal offense or a disorderly persons offense depending on the amount of the alleged theft. So, the first question to ask in a shoplifting case is: what is the estimated value of the allegedly stolen merchandise? If the amount of the alleged theft is $200.00 or less, the case will be handled in the Municipal Court in the municipality in which the alleged offense occurred. In other words, if you are charged with shoplifting at Paramus Park Mall in Paramus and the charge is a disorderly persons offense, you will be required to appear in Paramus Municipal Court. Many shoplifting cases involve disorderly persons offenses, which are punishable by a sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail, community service, restitution payments to the store owner, and a conviction on your criminal record.
As the value of the allegedly stolen item or items increases, the charges are enhanced to the felony-level. These cases are handled in the Superior Court in the county where the alleged offense occurred and prosecuted by the county prosecutor’s office. For example, if you are charged with a third degree shoplifting offense at Short Hills Mall in Millburn, your case will be handled in the Essex County Superior Court. If the amount involved in the alleged shoplifting offense is between $200 and $500, this is a fourth degree indictable crime in New Jersey which is punishable by up to eighteen (18) months in NJ state prison. If the amount of the alleged theft is between $500 and $75,000, this is a third degree shoplifting offense in New Jersey and punishable by up to five (5) years in state prison. Finally, if the amount of the theft is greater than $75,000, this is a second degree shoplifting offense in New Jersey punishable by up to ten (10) years in state prison.
Fines and Community Service in New Jersey Shoplifting Cases
Shoplifting offenses in New Jersey can also carry heavy fines. Specifically, a disorderly persons shoplifting offense may result in a fine of up to $1,000; a fourth degree shoplifting crime is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000; third degree shoplifting exposes you to a $15,000 fine; and second degree shoplifting may be punished by a fine of up t0 $150,000. Lastly, a shoplifting conviction requires community service under New Jersey law. For a first shoplifting offense, you must perform at least 10 days; for a second offense, a minimum of 15 days is required; and for a third or subsequent offense, the person has to perform community service for up to 25 days. If you are convicted of your third shoplifting offense, it is also mandatory that you serve a minimum of 90 days in jail.
What is a crime of moral turpitude?
All shoplifting offenses, regardless of the degree of the crime, are classified as “crimes of moral turpitude” in New Jersey. Although there has been much debate about what a crime of moral turpitude actually means, Federal immigration law states that a crime of moral turpitude refers to “conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.” This harsh definition may be shocking, but it applies just to same to shoplifting crimes in New Jersey. So, if you are not a permanent U.S. citizen, a shoplifting conviction can make you eligible for deportation, impact your green card or Visa application, and spell other serious immigration consequences.
Contact Paramus NJ Shoplifting Defense Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or someone you love is facing shoplifting charges in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 in New Jersey, the repercussions can be frightening, but you have rights. At The Tormey Law Firm our shoplifting defense lawyers utilize highly effective defense strategies to defeat shoplifting charges in Short Hills, Parsippany, Woodbridge, Teaneck, and throughout New Jersey. Contact us today at (201)556-1570 to speak with us about your unique case and find the answers you need to protect yourself. We provide 24/7 consultations free of charge.