Piscataway Shoplifting Attorney
In Piscataway, Walmart, Lowes, Shop Rite, and Best Buy are among the many stores where people frequently find themselves arrested for shoplifting. In fact, if you have ever been in Walmart in Piscataway, New Jersey, you have undoubtedly seen the sign that reads “Shoplifters will be prosecuted.” Just as the sign says, Walmart does seek to prosecute shoplifters, as do the numerous other stores in Piscataway and across NJ. When you or a loved one is facing Piscataway shoplifting charges, the degree of the crime depends on the value of the items taken or attempted to be taken, and the potential consequences will increase as the level of the crime increases. Unbeknownst to many, taking something as simple as a vacuum and a pair of jeans valued at $201 can land you in State prison for 12 to 18 months. New Jersey even imposes mandatory jail time for those convicted of a third shoplifting offense.
When considering the repercussions, it is important that you have an attorney skilled at the art of criminal defense if you have been charged with shoplifting in Piscataway. Fortunately, you’ve found the dedicated criminal defense firm of William Proetta Criminal Law, where you will receive personalized help and high-quality representation from lawyers who only practice criminal law. With local offices in Middlesex County, we appear in Piscataway Municipal Court and Middlesex County Superior Court on a regular basis to vigorously defend those facing shoplifting charges. Contact us anytime at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation and get the facts about your what you can do to minimize or avoid shoplifting penalties.
Shoplifting Charges in Piscataway, New Jersey
It is an offense of shoplifting if you commit any of the enumerated acts under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11. In a nutshell, it is an offense to:
- Take merchandise without paying for it
- Conceal merchandise
- Alter a label on an item marked for sale
- Conceal an item in another container
- Deactivate a shoplifting detection device
- Attempt to pay a lesser amount than required; or
- Remove a shopping cart from the premises
Additionally, you can be charged with shoplifting even if you do not leave the store with any merchandise. As long as you had the intent to shoplift, the police may charge you with a disorderly persons offense, fourth degree, third degree, or second degree crime for shoplifting. The degree of the charge and the severity of the punishment depends on the estimated monetary amount of the items taken or attempted to be taken. This will also determine whether you attend Municipal Court in Piscataway or the Superior Court in Middlesex County to face prosecution for a shoplifting crime.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Piscataway
Piscataway Shoplifting Disorderly Persons Offenses
There are different degrees of shoplifting charges and determining the degree of your charge generally depends on the value of the merchandise. If the total amount of the items involved in the alleged theft is less than $200, you will be charged with a disorderly persons offense (NJ law’s version of a criminal misdemeanor). In Piscataway, disorderly persons offenses are heard in the Piscataway Municipal Court located at 555 Sydney Road. Court is in session Tuesday 5:00 P.M., the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at 9:00 A.M, and Thursdays at 9:00 A.M. You will likely have several court appearances in Piscataway Municipal Court and it is highly inadvisable to go unrepresented.
While a disorderly persons offense for shoplifting is not as serious as a felony/indictable offense, you are still facing serious jail time. In fact, if convicted, you could spend as much as 180 days in the County Jail, pay $1000 in fines, a $50 Victims of Crime Fee, $33 in Court costs, a $75 Safe Neighborhood Fund Fee, and be placed on probation, not to mention you will have the offense on your record. You could also be ordered to pay restitution for the value of the items taken. To make matters worse, stores such as Walmart may take you to Civil Court to obtain a mandatory $150 Civil Judgement for shoplifting, regardless of the value of the item or if the items were recovered.
Indictable Shoplifting Crimes in Piscataway
If you are accused of shoplifting an amount greater than $200, you will be charged with an indictable offense. Felony shoplifting charges are classified as either second, third, or fourth degree crimes. The degree of the crime is dependent on the value of the alleged items taken. In Piscataway, indictable offenses are heard in the Middlesex County Superior Court located at 56 Paterson Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Court is in session every day and a conviction could lead to a state prison sentence.
If you are alleged to have shoplifted items with a value between $200 and $500 you will be charged with a fourth degree crime, which carries to 12-18 months in state prison and a $10,000 fine. Shoplifting items with a value between $500 and $75,000 will bump your charge up to a third degree crime and allow the judge to sentence you to 3-5 years in state prison plus $15,000 in fines if convicted. Further, shoplifting merchandise valued above $75,000 results in second degree criminal charges with the potential for a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
While some sentences handed down for third and fourth degree crimes have discretionary jail penalties, there are some mandatory consequences. A mandatory sentence is one in which the court has no choice but to give you. For example, if you are charged with shoplifting for the third time, in any jurisdiction, you will be forced to go to jail for a minimum of 90 days and you must complete community service. Moreover, each conviction regardless of the value of the items, will require a $75 Safe Neighborhood Fund Fee, $50 Victim of Crime Compensation fee, $30 Law Enforcement Training and Equipment Fund Penalty (felonies only) and collection of your DNA (felony only) to be placed in a criminal database.
Piscataway Shoplifting Defense Lawyers
No matter what degree of shoplifting charge you may be facing in Piscataway, New Jersey, the consequences can be severe. Often, there are defenses that defendants or attorneys can overlook without proper knowledge and experience representing clients in these matters. With thousands of successful results behind us, our lawyers will walk your through every phase of your theft case with a commitment to reaching the best outcome possible. Contact us at (732) 659-9600 to talk to a dedicated Piscataway shoplifting lawyer about your discovery and discuss your available defenses. Consultations are provided free of charge 24/7.