Maintaining a clean criminal record is critical to achieving your goals in life. Shoplifting is a crime of dishonesty, and many job applications, school applications, and military applications will specifically ask if you have ever been charged with this crime. With the advent of more extensive background check platforms, you cannot hide a theft conviction. And in New Jersey, it will take at least five years to try to get it removed from your record. A dedicated NJ shoplifting lawyer can help protect your record.
In New Jersey, a shoplifting charge can subject you to:
- financial penalties
- possible jail time
- court costs
- deportation or trouble adjusting your immigration status
It can also damage your reputation and limit your professional opportunities. If you have been arrested for shoplifting, you therefore need a knowledgeable and experienced NJ shoplifting lawyer who will fight for you.
Your NJ Shoplifting Lawyer Will Review the Evidence Against You
Preparation gives you the best chance to defend the charges against you. A NJ shoplifting lawyer at Andres Mejer Law can strategize with you on how to reduce the charges and minimize penalties by thoroughly reviewing the evidence the prosecutor has against you. Evidence in a shoplifting case often includes:
- in-store video
- witness testimony
- police reports filed by the officer at the scene
Think of the store owner or employee like a law enforcement officer — except they cannot forcibly detain or search you. They do, however, need probable cause to stop you. The burden of proof will ultimately be on them to prove that you stole goods from their store. Essentially, they need evidence that you:
- were within an arm’s length of the item,
- concealed it,
- and then failed to pay for it (i.e., you passed the point of sale or were attempting to pass the point of sale).
At that point, the owner or employee can peaceably detain you until the police arrive.
What Kind of Penalties Could You Face?
The severity of your charges can depend on multiple factors, but you should generally be aware of the varying levels of the offense. Here is the basic structure of potential penalties based on the value of the allegedly stolen item:
If the Retail Value Is Less Than $200
You face the following:
- Having to pay back the value of the item (i.e. restitution to the victim)
- If the store owners decides to seek civil remedies, the retail value of item(s) plus $150.
- A fine of up to $1,000. This does not, however, include court costs.
- Even though it is non-violent offense, jail time for up to 6 months.
If the Retail Value Is Between $200.01 and $500
You face a fine of up to $10,000 and jail time up to 18 months (plus court costs).
If the Retail Value Is Between $500.01 and $74,999.99
You face a fine of up to $15,000 and jail time from 3 to 5 years (plus court costs).
If the Retail Value Is $75,000.00 or More
You face a fine of up to $150,000 and jail time from 5 to 10 years (plus court costs).
Expect the court to also order community service, which will fluctuate based on your record.
Fortunately, in New Jersey low-level crimes can present opportunities for pre-trial diversion programs. Courts may order restitution and community service instead of proceeding through the prosecution.
Speak to a NJ Shoplifting Lawyer Today
As a criminal defendant, you have rights. Knowledgeable legal representation almost always gives you the best chance at a favorable result. Because your situation is unique, the best way to begin your defense is to schedule a consultation with a NJ shoplifting lawyer at Andres Mejer Law. Contact us today at 888-695-6169.