West New York Shoplifting Attorney
West New York Shoplifting Lawyers
If you have been arrested and charged with shoplifting in West New York, New Jersey, your appearance in court to answer to the charges is necessary. For indictable crimes of shoplifting, unless you have been authorized to represent yourself, you must notify the court as to who will be representing you. Even those facing disorderly persons offenses for shoplifting may be entitled to counsel, as a conviction can lead to jail. Choosing an attorney can be a difficult task and often, it results in people guessing as to who can best represent his or her interests. At the local Hudson County criminal defense firm of William Proetta Criminal Law, we take the guesswork out of this task, as we have spent over 10 years each representing people just like you facing charges for retail theft in New Jersey. Our attorneys have practical, real life-experience fighting the grading of the charges, gaining admission to PTI and similar programs, attending court in Hudson County Superior Court and West New York Municipal Court and ultimately, finding effective ways to challenge shoplifting cases. If you are in need of assistance with a West New York shoplifting case, call our office at (201) 793-8018 today. The consultation is always provided at no cost.
Shoplifting Charges in West New York, New Jersey
West New York is a small town located in Northern Hudson County, New Jersey. People patronize the town from bordering municipalities such as Guttenberg, North Bergen, Weehawken, and Union City. The town offers a variety of shops along such roads as Bergenline Avenue, JFK Boulevard, and Park Avenue. You can grab anything from these stores, from fresh fruit to clothing to medications. With the variability of shopping opportunities in the area and the bustling retail atmosphere, it is a frequent occurrence for someone to be accused of, and ultimately charged with, a shoplifting offense in the town. The law against shoplifting N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11, criminalizes the act of taking something, or attempting to take something, with the intention of getting something for nothing or paying less than the advertised price, as often happens when someone under-rings merchandise or alters a price tag in order to pay a nominal value for a more costly item. In cases involving shoplifting, your intention, purpose, or plan is really what matters most.
People are often befuddled by the fact that they have been charged with a shoplifting crime without ever having had the benefit of being caught red-handed, having the stolen items in their possession, or having left the store with the merchandise. This is made possible by virtue of the shoplifting statute that directs prosecutors to merely make a meager showing that you attempted to obtain an item without paying the full amount and that it was your intention to deprive the store of the full retail value of the goods. Some ways people are shown to have shoplifted under the statute are:
- Concealing items (i.e. hiding them under clothing, in bags, backpacks purses, etc.)
- Under-ringing items (i.e. acting in cahoots with a store clerk or under-ringing in self check out).
- Taking a shopping cart without returning it to the store
- Swapping labels or price tags (i.e. putting a low price tag on a high price item and paying the lesser amount)
- Hiding the indented item in another container (i.e. putting jewelry in a shoe box, stuffing clothes in a kitty litter box, hiding items in storage containers)
Whether you are shopping at Easy Pickens, Walgreens, Food Town, CVS, 7-11, or Acme in West New York, you can be charged with shoplifting if any of the above acts are alleged. Sometimes, people are seen hiding the items in containers that they actually pay for. While in other cases, the person pays for an item but winds up paying less because they price-swapped or put their hand over the more expensive item and paid for the cheaper one that faced the scanner. For any offense that qualifies under the NJ shoplifting law, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense or an indictable crime and sent to court.
Penalties You Face for Shoplifting in West New York
If the amount of goods that you allegedly shoplifted was less than $200, your case will be litigated in West New York Municipal Court. In this court, the judge will hear the facts of the case and preside over a trial in which the prosecutor must prove that you had the intention of shoplifting. If the case against you is proven, the judge has the authority to send you to the county jail for 6 months, to order fines of $1,000, and to place you on probation. If the amount alleged in a shoplifting case is greater than $200, the case is prosecuted in Hudson County Superior Court, Criminal Part, located in nearby Jersey City.
If you are in Hudson County Superior Court, it means that you have been charged with a felony offense. A Superior Court judge has wider latitude to imprison you for a lengthier term, namely years in state prison, the duration of which is determined by the degree of the charge in your case. In fact, for a 4th degree felony (merchandise value between $200 and $500), a prison term of 18 months can be imposed. Surprisingly, the prison term rises from a year and a half to a minimum of 3, and a maximum of 5, for a third degree crime (items with a value of $500-$75,000). What’s more, on the off chance that you have been charged with a second degree felony for shoplifting $75,000 or more worth of goods, the term of imprisonment increases to a staggering 5-10 years. Convictions for second degree crimes make it mandatory for the court to implement state prison sentences.
There are other perfunctory provisions of sentencing for shoplifting as well. As such, community service must be ordered in all shoplifting cases. Additionally, you will be forced to spend 90 days in the county jail if this is your third or subsequent shoplifting conviction, including those committed in other states.
Defense Strategies for West New York Shoplifting Cases
Not all cases of shoplifting result in the imposition of jail time, as there are ways to defend the case and other amiable resolutions. As noted, shoplifting means that you intended to commit a theft of items from a retail establishment without paying the necessary price. While there are no affirmative defenses to shoplifting, your defense lawyer can set out to show that you had no intention of taking the property without paying the full value. For some, this means that you abandoned any conspiracy to shoplift and left the store without the goods, had nothing to do with the planning, or simply abandoned the plan. For others, the payment or lack thereof could have been a mistake. It is possible to show that you had no knowledge that a shoplifting was occurring and you were just an innocent bystander along for the ride. Still more, some charges cannot be established by surveillance video or other evidence, and sometimes witnesses fail to appear in court to testify against you, opening the door for a motion to dismiss.
In addition, if the facts are not on your side, there are other ways to resolve the case. If charged with an indictable offense without a criminal record, you may be able to apply for Pretrial Intervention (PTI). This program allows for dismissal of the case against you after having met set conditions. We can also seek a downgrade, fine, or entry into the conditional dismissal program if you are charged with a disorderly persons shoplifting offense.
Need Shoplifting Defense Attorney in West New York, NJ
When it comes to shoplifting allegations, there is no right answer except what is right for you. Our West New York shoplifting lawyers will review your case, lay out all your options, help you make the best decision as to how to proceed, and advocate for you every step of way. To speak with an attorney regarding your specific situation free of charge, call (201) 793-8018 now.