Rahway Shoplifting Attorney

Have you been arrested and charged with shoplifting in Rahway, New Jersey? If so, you need to be prepared for what comes next. Shoplifting is a common occurrence and one that police and prosecutors are accustomed to arresting and charging people for in the city of Rahway and throughout Union County and New Jersey. But just as law enforcement is familiar with these theft crimes, the attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law are equally familiar with defending those accused. Here is some key information that you need to know when arrested and charged with shoplifting. To speak with a Rahway shoplifting defense lawyer free of costs, contact our office at (908) 838-0150.

Rahway Shoplifting Offenses 2C:20-11

There are 6 distinct ways a person can be found guilty of shoplifting, each of which can result in imprisonment, fines, and a record of your conviction. Shoplifting is, in the general sense, a crime of theft that is specific to retail establishments. Taking something from a friend’s house, inside someone’s car, or even their purse or wallet, would be a theft offense, just not shoplifting. In order for the offense to be shoplifting, the item intended or actually stolen must be offered for sale by a store. In Rahway, people have been charged with shoplifting for taking merchandise from stores such as CVS, Walgreens, the Dollar Tree, Liquor Stores, Krauser’s or they may be caught in Rahway on the way back from Woodbridge Center with shoplifted goods. Before you can be charged with a specific violation of NJSA 2c:20-11, the police must allege that you:

  1. Took or caused an item to be taken from the store without paying for it (left the store with the cart or bag, helped another by distracting security or by placing the item near an exit so another could take the item, etc.)
  2. Hid or concealed the merchandise on you without paying for it (placed the object under you shirt, jacket, pants, etc.)
  3. Changed any label or price tag to pay less for an item than the advertised price (price swapping, affixing a sale’s tag, covering the original tag, etc.)
  4. Placed the item in another container to disguise its presence with the intention of leaving without paying for the item (hiding in a purse or bag, storage container, shoe box, or other container that would not reveal the item)
  5. Caused an item to be under-rang or performed the under-ringing with the intention of paying less than the advertised price (store clerk rings in the wrong item in an effort to pay less-also occurs with self check out items, covering your hand over the real item while swapping a cheaper item)
  6. Removed a shopping cart without consent from the owner.

Charged with Shoplifting in Rahway NJ, What if I get Convicted?

The degree of the offense is wholly dependent on the value of the items shoplifted or involved in such an attempt. The penalties for shoplifting worsen as the value of the stolen items increases. Surprisingly, for taking something of minimal value such as a phone charger, game for a nintendo switch, or even a pack of gum, the Rahway Municipal Court can sentence you to serve 6 months in the county jail. This is true for any item(s) allegedly shoplifted with a value of less than $200. Adding to the jail term, you are facing a monetary penalty of $1,000, repayment for the items, probation, and community service as well.

For shoplifted merchandise valued at $200 or more, you can be charged with a fourth, third, or second degree crime. Each crime carries its own punishment which is carried out by the Union County Superior Court Judge. Here, the court is permitted to send you to state prison for taking as little as $200 worth of items, or goods worth above $75,000, and anything in between. Sadly, during these difficult times, people have shoplifted groceries, household necessities and even pet food because they cannot afford these critical things. While the court may consider the reasons behind a shoplifting offense, it can nonetheless punish those accused and convicted with 18 months in state prison for a fourth degree crime involving $200-$499 worth of goods. When the value exceeds this amount by even one dollar, the crime increases to a third degree offense with the possibility of 3-5 years in prison. Third degree shoplifting crimes are common as the value of the goods taken is between $500 and $75,000. Sometimes, shoplifters involved in larger scale operations take merchandise valued at $75,000 or more and will be incarcerated for a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10.

Do you have to go to jail for shoplifting in Rahway?

Shoplifting offenses filed in the third and fourth degree and disorderly persons offenses do not mandate jail time. However, if you have a prior criminal history and go to trial and lose, you may spend some time behind bars. Notably, having two prior convictions for shoplifting offenses on your record (from any state), coupled with the third or subsequent (from any state), forces the judge to impose a 90-day term in the county jail. The 90 days must be implemented unless you plead to a charge outside of shoplifting. For example, you may instead plead to theft or conspiracy to shoplift which eliminates the required 90 days. Similarly, prison time is required in second degree cases but can be avoided by acceptance into a court program. For second degree shoplifting crimes, unless you are accepted into Drug Court or you are sentenced one degree lower, the law requires prison terms.

Lastly, programs like PTI or conditional dismissals allow for dismissals if you meet conditions over time. The charge is dismissed upon completion but the record of the offense will still be reflected on your criminal history and appear on background checks. With PTI, your record of arrest can be expunged within 6 months of the dismissal. If the charge is immediately dismissed without PTI, you are entitled to an immediate expungement.  In cases in which people plead or are convicted, the offense will remain on your record until you move to expunge it by petition. Unfortunately, there is a substantial period of time that you must wait before expunging convictions. For a dp the minimum time is 3 years and for felonies, the minimum wait is 4 years and usually 5.

Local Rahway Shoplifting Defense Attorneys Here to Assist You

If you are a first time offender or a more seasoned defendant charged with a shoplifting offense in Rahway NJ, our seasoned defense lawyers are here for you. Contact us at (908) 838-0150 today for a free consultation and take charge of your best case scenario.