Linden Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
March 4, 2020
Accused of Shoplifting in Linden NJ
Linden is not only a great commuter location, but it is also a great place to shop. Whether you need to stop at Walmart or Target for a few things, AT&T for a new phone, or along Wood Avenue after leaving the train, you can generally grab whatever you need, provided that you pay for the items. On the other hand, if you are accused of shoplifting at any of these locations or at another retailer in Linden, New Jersey, you will be prosecuted. Depending on the degree of your shoplifting charges, you will be sent to Linden Municipal Court or Union County Superior Court to answer the complaint. If you have been arrested for shoplifting in Linden, you should seek the advice of counsel before going to court, as you may not realize it, but your charges could affect your immigration status, your job, and even require jail time. Shoplifting, while seemingly innocuous, can have more severe consequences than some higher-level crimes in New Jersey. For example, if you have been convicted on two prior occasions, the law requires you to serve a mandatory jail sentence. Contact our experienced Linden shoplifting defense attorneys to discuss your case free of charge. You can reach our local office 24/7 by calling (908) 838-0150 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Linden Shoplifting Charges
To convict you of shoplifting, the state must prove that you intended to shoplift or actually committed this theft offense with intent. This means that shoplifting is not an accident or mistake but rather, the act of taking an item must be done on purpose. Specifically, the state must prove that you:
- Took something without paying that was advertised for sale/purchase;
- Tried or attempted to take something that did not belong to you without paying;
- Concealed an item with the intention of leaving the store without paying for it;
- Paid less or allowed another to pay less than the advertised value for an item by under-ringing the item;
- Switched tags on an item or items to pay a lesser value for something than advertised;
- Removed a price tag or security device from an item;
- Left or attempted to leave the area surrounding the premises with a shopping cart
In shoplifting cases, if the value of the items taken or attempted to be taken exceeds a certain amount, the degree of the charge will be increased and the penalties can become more severe.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Shoplifting Offenses in Linden NJ
Shoplifting charges will result in a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense, and the monetary amount of the items allegedly taken or attempted to be taken will dictate what type of offense you will be charged with. If the items you allegedly took or tried to take were valued at less than $200, you will be charged with a disorderly offense (misdemeanor) and will be required to go to Linden Municipal Court located at 301 North Wood Ave., 2nd Floor, Linden, New Jersey 07036. If the amount alleged in your shoplifting case is greater than $200, you will be charged with an indictable crime (felony) and made to go to the Union County Superior Court located at 2 Broad St, Elizabeth, New Jersey.
For disorderly persons offenses, you will be given the initial court date in which you will plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, you will return at another date to further adjudicate the case and if unresolved, you will ultimately be expected to have a trial. At the Superior Court level, you will have multiple court dates before going to trial as well. In both courts, the prosecutor will have the heavy burden of establishing that you committed a violation of the shoplifting statute, found in section NJSA 2C:20 of the New Jersey Criminal Code of Justice. The standard of proof in such cases is beyond a reasonable doubt.
Charged with Shoplifting in Linden, What Punishments am I Facing?
For shoplifting, both indictable and misdemeanor charges have varying consequences, which include the following:
- Disorderly persons offenses shoplifting offenses (misdemeanors) occur when the amount taken is valued up to $200. You face up to 6 months in jail, court costs, $75 Safe Neighborhood Fund Fee, $50 Victims of Crime Agency Assessment Fee, $30 Law enforcement officers Equipment Fund Penalty and up to $1,000 in additional fines. This is technically a criminal offense, so it will appear on your record.
- Fourth degree felony shoplifting crimes occur when the amount taken is $200-$500. You face 12-18 months in state prison and, in addition to the above fines, up to $10,000 in additional fines, the cost of DNA testing, and a criminal record.
- Third Degree felony shoplifting crimes are charged when the value of the items are $500-$75,000. You can be sent to prison for 3-5 years, ordered to pay up to $15,000 in fines and for DNA testing. You will also have a criminal record.
- Second Degree felony shoplifting crimes are charged when the value of the shoplifted items is $75,00 and above. You can be ordered to pay up to $150,000 in financial penalties, mandatory fees, and can spend 5-10 years in state prison. After serving time, you will be a convicted felon.
Notably, many people who have been charged with shoplifting already have similar offenses on their records. For instance, you may have been charged in another jurisdiction such as Pennsylvania or New York with retail theft. The offenses in other states will count as prior shoplifting charges and, if your charge in New Jersey is a third or subsequent offense, you will be sent to jail for a minimum of 90 days if convicted. It makes no difference if the other shoplifting crimes were committed in other states. New Jersey law requires the judge to sentence you to a mandatory time in jail if convicted of your third shoplifting offense.
You can be Arrested for Shoplifting in Linden, New Jersey
Places such as Walmart, Target, and ShopRite all pursue charges against shoplifters in Linden. It does not matter whether you take a pack of gum or you sneak a $4,000 television out the back door, you will be prosecuted. This is because shoplifting has become an increasing problem throughout the country that causes billions of dollars in retail losses each year. Police in many cases receive a report from store employees that someone is shoplifting, at which point the officer responds to the store. In addition, while you are in the store, there is often someone in the Loss Protection Division watching for suspicious activity within the store. In some retailers, all activity can be viewed through the video surveillance system located throughout the stores and in the parking lots. So, if Loss Prevention sees you looking at an expensive item and switch tags with a cheaper item, chances are that you will be stopped before leaving the store and possibly arrested. You can be arrested and charged with shoplifting even if you did not leave the store for attempting to shoplift, say perhaps, by switching or removing a price tag or security tag.
Consult Linden NJ Shoplifting Attorneys for Your Defense
If you have been charged with a theft offense for shoplifting in Linden, New Jersey, contact our office for advice and assistance. There are many defenses available or arguments to made in shoplifting cases, depending on the evidence available. Our experienced Linden shoplifting lawyers know the ins and outs of these types of cases and can help. Simply call (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation.