If you have been accused of shoplifting, then you know it can be a serious crime with serious repercussions. In order to ensure the best legal defense possible, make sure you contact the law offices of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. We are an experienced law firm, with many qualified attorneys ready to give you the best defense possible.
What is Shoplifting?
Under New Jersey law, shoplifting is the act of intentionally depriving an owner of an item by failing to pay full price for the item. In order to prove shoplifting has occurred, the offender must have done one of six acts to deprive the owner of the item. The six ways to shoplift in New Jersey include:
- Physically taking something from a store, or causing it to have been carried away somehow
- Concealing an item on your person
- Changing the label on an item in order to make it a different price than it was originally marked
- Putting an item in a different item's container
- A cashier under-charging a customer
- Removing a shopping cart from a store's premises
The Degrees of Shoplifting
In cases of shoplifting, the degree of the crime depends on the value of merchandise stolen. If the offender stole something valued at an amount up to $200, it is considered a disorderly person's offense. If the offender stole more than $200 but less than $500 worth of merchandise, it is considered a fourth degree crime. If the offender stole more than $500 but less than $75,000 of merchandise, it is considered a third degree crime. If the offender shoplifted more than $75,000 worth of merchandise, it is considered a second degree crime.
If the offender is with a group of other offenders during the shoplifting, it is important to note that the charges will be based on the total amount of merchandise stolen by all the members of the group. In order for this to happen though, the prosecution must prove that group had planned to commit the acts of shoplifting together.
Defenses for Shoplifting
All cases of shoplifting are different and, in order to sure the best defense for you, you should contact an experienced attorney. The best defense for shoplifting is to prove that the offender did not intend to shoplift. In accordance with New Jersey law, the prosecution must prove intent. If the defense can prove there was no intent when the offender took the item(s), all charges will be dropped and the case dismissed. The second best defense deals with being detained on location. According to the law, if a person is suspected of shoplifting, and the police have probable cause to believe they have something concealed on their person that the accused has not paid for, the police are allowed to detain the person. The accused can only be detained on the store's property for a reasonable period of time and in a reasonable manner. If the accused was detained for more than a reasonable period of time or in an unreasonable manner, it becomes a violation of his or her constitutional rights.
Sentencing for Shoplifting Offenses in NJ
The sentencing for a shoplifting conviction depends on the degree of crime the offender is convicted of. If the offender is found guilty of a second degree charge of shoplifting something valued at more than $75,000, he or she faces five to ten years in prison. If the offender is found guilty of a third degree crime for shoplifting merchandise valued between $500 and $75,000, the punishment is three to five years in prison. If the offender is found guilty of committing a fourth degree shoplifting, he or she faces up to a eighteen months in jail. If he or she is found guilty of committing a disorderly person's offense, the maximum amount of time in jail would be six months. Contact Villani & DeLuca today for a free review of your shoplifting charges.