I represented a client recently in the Bridgewater Municipal Court who was charged with shoplifting under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11, a disorderly persons offense. The client was facing the following if convicted: A $1,000 fine, up to six (6) months in the county jail, and a permanent criminal charge on his record. Furthermore, our client was in the country on a visa and was not a citizen. In fact, he was in the process of filing for his citizenship after being in the country for twenty years. He had no prior criminal record. If he was convicted of shoplifting in New Jersey, which is considered a “crime of moral terpitude”, he would most likely be denied his citizenship and could even be deported from the country.
The client was charged with shoplifting goods from Macy’s department store in the Bridgewater Commons Mall. Mr. Tormey received and reviewed the discovery package (police reports, etc.) and prepared for trial. At the first court listing, the Macy’s store representative failed to appear. Without this witness’s testimony, the State would be unable to prove their case. As a result, the judge marked the next listing “try or dismiss”, meaning that if the State’s witness failed to appear in court again, the case would be dismissed. This is exactly what happened. The charges were dismissed altogether against our client. We are in the process of expunging his arrest record and the client is hopeful to obtain his citizenship in the United States in the very near future.