Edison Shoplifting Attorney
Have you been charged with a shoplifting crime in Edison, New Jersey? These offenses are quite common and Edison Police charge dozens of shoplifting crimes each year. This is because Edison is one of the largest towns in the state with over 100,000 residents. Several major highways including U.S. 1 & 9 and the Garden State Parkway feed in tons of traffic that includes daily commuters and shoppers who frequent the many stores, restaurants and strip malls throughout the town. The most popular shoplifting destination in town is the Menlo Park Mall that houses many department stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Old Navy and Sephora just to name a few. There are other large stores in town such as Target, Home Depot and Costco that draw a lot of shoppers to the area. This leads to a lot shoplifting charges, police interactions and a very busy court. Whether you were arrested for having a lapse of judgement, made an honest mistake or as the result of a simple misunderstanding – our Edison shopliftings attorneys can help you. Our Edison criminal lawyers have successfully defending dozens of clients against shoplifting charges in Edison over the years.
Arrested in Edison for Shoplifting? Here’s What Happens Next
For purposes of this section, it is important to note that if you are charged with a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) shoplifting you will be required to appear in Edison Municipal Court. However, if you are arrested for an indictable (felony) shoplifting you will have to appear in Middlesex County Superior Court. Shoplifting is a theft-related crime – specifically a retail theft crime. All theft charges are handled the same way in New Jersey. The court bases the seriousness (or degree) of the crime off the amount of money stolen or attempted to be stolen. In situations involving retail theft or shoplifting under 2C:20-11B, the degree of the crime is based on how the much the merchandise is worth. And to many people’s surprise and shock the price is based on the full retail value of the item. So for instance, if you shoplift a jacket that is on sale for $50 but the retail price prior to being marked down for sale is $250, the police will arrest you and charge with shoplifting $250 worth of merchandise, not $50. That price difference can be a big deal because the example above is the difference between a misdemeanor shoplifting and felony shoplifting. We will talk more about the different degrees of shoplifting below.
How Serious is a Shoplifting Charge?
Shoplifting is a crime and is always serious regardless of the degree you have been charged. Even a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) can result in significant consequences which include mandatory jail time, community service, probation, a permanent criminal record and deportation proceedings for non-citizens. However, some shoplifting offenses can be worse than others. We have listed the different degrees of shoplifting below for your convenience.
- 2nd Degree Crime – Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the second degree if the full retail value of the merchandise is $75,000 or more, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is $1,000 or more. A 2nd degree is punishable by 5 – 10 years in New Jersey state prison and a conviction carries a presumption of incarceration even if you have never been in trouble before in your life. That means, if convicted, you are almost certain to go to prison.
- 3rd Degree Crime – Shoplifting constitutes a crime of third degree if the full retail value of the merchandise exceeds $500 but is less than $75,000, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $1,000. A third degree crime carries 3 – 5 years in New Jersey state prison.
- 4th Degree – Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the fourth degree if the full retail value of the merchandise is at least $200 but does not exceed $500. A fourth degree crime carries up to 18 months in New Jersey state prison.
- Disorderly Persons Offense – Shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense if the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $200. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to 180 days in Middlesex County Jail.
Mandatory Penalties for Shoplifting Conviction
If you are convicted of a shoplifting, the judge will have to sentence you to a mandatory period of community service. For a first shoplifting offense, you will receive at least least ten days of community service. For a second offense, you will be sentenced to serve at least 15 days of community service; and for a third or subsequent shoplifting offense, you will receive up to 25 days of community service. As we discussed above, you can face mandatory incarceration if you are charged with a 2nd degree shoplifting. However, you can be sentenced t0 mandatory jail time for a less serious shoplifting offense such as a disorderly persons offense shoplifting if you have prior convictions. Under the law, you will have to serve a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of at least 90 days if you have 3 or more shoplifting convictions over the course of your lifetime.
How To Defend a Shoplifting Charge
In order to properly defend a shoplifting charge in Edison or anywhere in New Jersey, you need to first understand the law and know what works and what does not work. One thing most people are surprised to learn is the law puts an automatic presumption against you if you “conceal” merchandise. This means that it is presumed under the law that you concealed the merchandise with the intention of depriving the store of the items. This could be as simple as putting items in a shopping bag while you scroll around the store or covering the items with other belongings in your shopping cart. It is important to keep in mind that you also don’t need to leave the store to get charged with shoplifting. Common defenses to shoplifting include improper identification of the suspect, challenging the criminal intent, a motion to suppress evidence that was not timely provided and moving to dismiss the case based on witnesses failing to appear in court.
Call Our Edison Shoplifting Attorneys Today for Help
At William Proetta Criminal Law, our Edison shoplifting defense attorneys are available to speak with you about the specific facts of your case during a free initial consultation. If you decide to hire our law firm, we will be ready to fight for your rights and establish a strong defense in your case. Contact our Edison office now to take the next steps and let us help you put this case behind you so it does not affect the rest of your life.