New Jersey Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
Being charged with shoplifting does not mean your life is over. A shoplifting conviction could mean a jail term, a large fine, and the social stigma of having a criminal record – but a charge is not a conviction.
You could defend your case against a shoplifting charge and walk free with the right legal strategy. Working with an experienced New Jersey shoplifting attorney is an investment in your future liberty and social standing.
Jason A. Volet has more than 19 years of experience handling many types of criminal theft cases in New Jersey. As a former Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor and certified Criminal Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, Volet has an intimate understanding of both sides of the law. Today, he focuses exclusively on criminal defense law to serve the people of New Jersey. During his long career as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, Jason A. Volet has taken on more than 2,000 cases.
Types of Shoplifting
There are numerous ways an individual can steal items from a retailer. Here are just a few examples:
- Concealing small items within larger items. For example, an individual might put jewelry in a purse while shopping, then purchase only the purse.
- Changing price tags on items.
- Removing a shopping cart from its premises without permission from the retailer.
- Concealing items in one’s clothing or pockets and walking out of a store without paying for the items.
- “Under-ringing” an item. A cashier can commit this offense by purposely ringing an item up for less than its actual price.
- Damaging items or removing them from their packages so they appear to have been previously owned by the offender.
How a shoplifting offense is charged depends on the value of the items stolen. New Jersey’s shoplifting offenses are as follow:
- Second-degree shoplifting is defined as the theft of items worth $75,000 or more. Individuals convicted of this offense face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
- Third-degree shoplifting is the offense of stealing items worth between $500 and $75,000. The penalties for this conviction are a fine of up to $15,000 and three to five years in prison.
- Fourth-degree shoplifting is the theft of items valued between $200 and $500. Individuals convicted of this offense face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Individuals found guilty of stealing items worth $200 or less face disorderly persons offense The penalties an individual faces for this conviction depend on his or her previous shoplifting record. For an individual’s first offense, he or she faces at least 10 days of community service. For a second offense, the required community service term is 25 days and for a third or subsequent offense, the individual is required to serve at least 90 days in jail. The maximum penalties for this offense are 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Detention & Interrogation
When a security guard, merchant, or law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe an individual has shoplifted, he or she can detain and interrogate the individual. There are specific conduct rules for this process, which include:
- The detention and interrogation must not take an unreasonable amount of time.
- An unreasonable level of physical force may not be used.
- The detention and interrogation must be done in a reasonable manner.
Detained individuals have rights, including the right not to speak with an officer or other detaining party without first consulting with a lawyer.
Although individuals charged with disorderly persons shoplifting cannot participate in diversion programs, those charged with second, third, and fourth-degree shoplifting who have otherwise clean records can participate in New Jersey’s Pretrial Intervention (PTI) program. Through this program, the individual avoids conviction by completing specific conditions, some of which are standard for all PTI program participants and others that are at the court’s discretion.
Required conditions include random urine tests and assessment for fines. Additional conditions can include:
- Paying restitution
- Completing community service
- Psychological counseling
- Completing a drug or alcohol treatment program
A PTI program takes one to three years to complete, during which time the participant is monitored by a probation officer.
Possession of Anti-Shoplifting Devices
It is also a criminal offense to possess an anti-shoplifting device, even if the device is not used. These include keys to unlock merchandise cabinets and devices to remove or deactivate security tags from items as well as items that can be used to open packaging, such as small knives.
New Jersey’s law is fairly broad in its definition of anti-shoplifting devices. Possession of an anti-shoplifting device is a disorderly persons offense.
Robbery is the act of theft committed through force or the threat of force. When an individual is accused of using force to steal from a retailer, he or she may be charged with robbery. This is a second-degree crime in New Jersey, punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Organized Retail Theft Enterprise
When two or more people are involved in a scheme to transfer stolen merchandise, they may be charged with involvement in a retail theft enterprise. In many cases, involvement in an organized retail theft enterprise is a third-degree crime. If the merchandise stolen was worth $1,000 or more, it is a second-degree crime.
Work With an Experienced New Jersey Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
When you are facing a shoplifting charge, never make assumptions about how the jury will rule and never lose hope that you can demonstrate your innocence in court. You always have the right to work with an experienced shoplifting defense attorney and when you do, you significantly increase your chance of having your charge lowered or even dismissed completely.
A shoplifting defense attorney in New Jersey can answer your questions today and can get started on your case. Contact The Law Office of Jason A. Volet today to schedule your initial consultation with our office. At The Law Office of Jason A. Volet, you can trust that your lawyer can help you build a strong defense.