Weehawken Nj Shoplifting Charges & Defense


Financial losses attributed to shoplifting and theft from retailers are on the rise, increasing by billions of dollars year over year. There is no prospect of this declining anytime soon and stores, communities, and the police have adjusted their practices to aid in arresting anyone associated with shoplifting. Weehawken, New Jersey is no different than any other retail environment in the United States and has seen increases in retail thefts as well. Such thefts in Weehawken, whether occurring at Lincoln Harbor, Tower Plaza, Whole Foods, CVS, or other stores will be investigated if reported to the police. If and when the police obtain enough information through witnesses, surveillance, and conjoined efforts of neighboring police departments, they will arrest and charge you with the offense of shoplifting. Facing charges for one or more offenses under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 can be a nightmare, as a simple smash and grab or way to compensate with a little extra cash can cost you significant time behind bars. If you have been charged with shoplifting in Weehawken, speak with one of our experienced defense attorneys for answers to your particular questions about your case. With decades of combined experience handling shoplifting charges and defense on behalf of clients in Weehawken and throughout Hudson County, our lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law are pleased to assist you. Contact our office at (201) 793-8018 to receive an absolutely free consultation.

What if I’m Facing Shoplifting Charges in Weehawken, New Jersey?

If you or anyone you are with (co-conspirators) enter a store, attempting to steal, or successfully steal items without paying, you can be charged with a felony (indictable crime) or misdemeanor (disorderly persons offense). First, the police must allege that you committed any acts of shoplifting as set forth under the law. More specifically, the criminal complaint will state that you shoplifted by 1) concealing an item, 2) storing an item in another container, 3)  under-ringing items, 4) switching price tags, 5) leaving the store with merchandise without paying, or stealing a shopping cart.

Next, the police will identify the items alleged to have been taken and then develop an estimate as to the value of the merchandise. The grading of the offense is based on the aggregate amount of money that would have been paid for the items taken. Essentially, anything taken will be tallied and the total combined value is used to define the degree of the crime.

Will I Go to Jail for Shoplifting in Weehawken?

The amounts and possible punishments for shoplifting depend on the specific level of crime, known as the degree. Disorderly persons offenses involving less than $200, could result in up to 6 months in jail, repayment for the retail losses, a fine up to $1000, and civil penalties. Fourth degree charges are filed when the product is valued at greater than $200 but less than $500. A conviction for a 4th degree shoplifting crime could be punished with up to 18 months in prison, a maximum $10,000 fine, restitution, or county jail and probation.

Third degree crimes of shoplifting span a wide range of values, specifically greater than $500 but less than $75,000. The sentences for these charges also range from 3 to 5 years in prison, restitution, probation, and fines that can be up to $15,000. The worst case scenario in a shoplifting case is a second degree crime for goods with a monetary value greater than $75,000. Pending a conviction, you could face a minimum of 5 years in prison with a maximum of 10 years, restitution, a whopping $150,000 fine, and probation. In certain cases, it is possible to gain admission into Drug Court in lieu of jail if eligible.

What if I’m Accused of Shoplifting With Someone Else in Weehawken?

The problem for the lower echelon shoplifters involved with high-powered multi-million dollar rings is that, in some instances, they can be on the hook just the same as the person who profited more from the organized retail theft enterprise. Cases involving retail theft enterprises are slightly different than the average shoplifting case. This is due to the provision in the statute designated the grading of the offense by the value of the items taken during even one episode in which you contributed to the profits of the shoplifting ring. With shoplifting rings or those involved in a criminal enterprise of shoplifting, the amounts can be added together for the figurehead and that person is exposed to a higher degree crime. So too are the employees producing the goods.

The shoplifter making a profit for the enterprise may only make a few hundred dollars. However, if the lifted merchandise is valued at $1000, and it was part of a shoplifting enterprise who caused retail losses of $75,000 or more, you will be charged with a second degree crime. This is vastly different from an everyday shoplifter taking goods for himself. Under the basic model above, an everyday shoplifter who takes $1000 worth of goods would be charged with a third degree crime and the punishment would be less severe. But here, for those involved in a ring or enterprise, the $1000, they face a second degree crime and mandatory imprisonment. If the amount is less than $1000, the crime will remain a third degree offense.

Can You Get Caught for Shoplifting in Weehawken Weeks Later?

Just like others accused of crimes in Weehawken and across the state, you may not be caught in the act of shoplifting but you can nonetheless be charged at a later date. The police do not always catch people in the act of shoplifting. In fact, many stores have policies that instruct employees to allow the shoplifter to leave without conflict. Nonetheless, the police will review surveillance videos, as well as reports from other agencies or counties, Facebook posts, and any arrests made in other cases to assist in identifying shoplifters.

Many times, arrests are not made until well after the alleged incident. When this happens, the arrests can occur at your job, your home, or after being pulled over for a traffic offense and discovering you have a warrant. For some, the complaint will be placed on a warrant which means you can be arrested and taken to jail, For others, they will receive a summons and advised of the charging of a complaint. Ultimately, everyone charged with the offense will be arrested and fingerprinted.

Will My Weehawken Shoplifting Case Be Heard in Superior Court or Municipal Court?

Depending on the degree of the charges, your appearance in one court or another is required. For offenses involving less than $200, the disorderly persons offense is directed to the Weehawken Municipal Court after being placed on a summons. If the offense is a felony complaint, your case will later be heard in the Hudson County Superior Court, Criminal Part. In either court, you have the right to a trial. You are under no obligation to plead or resolve your case with thoroughly litigating it in Municipal or Superior Court. You are in control of decisions concerning your right to trial at every stage of the criminal process. However, some people charged with shoplifting offenses are interested in resolving their cases and avoiding a trial, which can be done in multiple ways by experienced defense lawyers.

Attorneys for Clients Charged With Shoplifting in Weehawken NJ

If you have been arrested for allegedly shoplifting in Weehawken, do not give up at the first sign of trouble. Instead, bring your charges to our seasoned attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law. We are aware of our clients’ priorities in seeking to avoid a criminal record and other severe consequences. As a result, we take the time to carefully review the facts, the charges, and any evidence or shortcomings in the state’s case against you. This often translates into better deals, lowering the grading of the offense, and dismissals for people facing shoplifting accusations in Weehawken Municipal Court and Hudson County Superior Court. When you are in need of advice and counsel for a theft case of any kind, we are here to help. Contact us at (201) 793-8018 for further discussion with an attorney on our staff. We can be reached day and night to assist you and the consultation is always provided at no cost.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.