Trenton NJ Shoplifting Lawyer

With Offices in Trenton and Pennington, New Jersey

Shoplifting is one of the most common theft offenses in the State of New Jersey. That’s because it is very easy for someone to make a mistake and accidentally leave a store without paying for an item. Unfortunately, NJ prosecutors are really cracking down on these kinds of “minor” theft crimes; as a result, you could be looking at significant penalties regardless of the circumstances of the offense. In the worst cases, a shoplifting charge could be upgraded to a charge of robbery. In fact, if you make any physical contact with a store employee during the commission of a shoplifting offense, you could be accused of a violent theft crime and face a very long time behind bars.

Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson is a well-respected law firm with vast legal resources and more than 40 years of experience in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our criminal defense lawyers have successfully represented clients charged with shoplifting and other theft offenses throughout Mercer County, NJ, including Pennington, Hamilton, and Lawrence. Additionally, our litigation team includes a New Jersey Certified Trial Attorney, so you can trust the fact that we know our way around a courtroom. Call KCR today to discuss your shoplifting charges and start your defense.

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11: Shoplifting Charges in Mercer County

Shoplifting in New Jersey is addressed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11. The statute sets forth a number of different shoplifting violations, including:

  • Removing an item without paying for it
  • Concealing an unpurchased item for the purpose of stealing it
  • Modifying a price tag for the purpose of stealing an item
  • Switching items in packages for the purpose of paying less for one of the items
  • Removing a shopping cart from a parking lot for the purpose of stealing it

Penalties for Shoplifting in Mercer County

The penalties for shoplifting in New Jersey are determined by the value of the stolen items:

  • $75,000 or More: Second degree felony, punishable by 5–10 years in New Jersey State Prison and a $150,000 fine.
  • $500–$75,000: Third degree felony, punishable by 3–5 years in New Jersey State Prison and a $15,000 fine.
  • $200–$500: Fourth degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Less than $200: Disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to 6 months in the local county jail and a $1,000 fine.

Keep in mind that the prosecutor in your shoplifting case may try to aggregate the amounts of items that were taken on different occasions. This means that if you are accused of shoplifting items from different stores, you could face upgraded charges and enhanced penalties so long as the thefts were part of a continuing course of conduct.

Additionally, repeat offenders are subject to enhanced penalties that include a requirement to perform community service. Beyond that, if you are convicted of a third shoplifting offense within 10 years, the court may impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 months in jail regardless of the value of the stolen items.

Civil Penalties for Shoplifting in Trenton NJ

Anyone who is convicted of shoplifting in New Jersey is also subject to civil penalties:

  • The court may order you to pay restitution of up to $500 to the merchant if the stolen merchandise cannot be restored in its original condition.
  • The court may impose a $150 civil penalty, which is payable to the merchant.
  • You may be required to pay additional damages arising from the incident, including lost time or lost wages incurred by the merchant.
  • You may also be required to pay the merchant’s attorney’s fees and other court costs.

If the shoplifting offender is a juvenile, the offender’s parent or guardian will be liable for any civil penalties.

Fight a Shoplifting Charge in Pennington NJ

An experienced attorney might be able to get your shoplifting charges dismissed. For example, New Jersey prosecutors are permitted to dismiss a shoplifting charge if it is a de minimis offense. In other words, harmless crimes, such as taking a pack of gum or other low-dollar item without paying for it, may be dismissed so that the offender does not have to go to jail or end up with a permanent criminal record.

It might also be possible for an attorney to get the charges dismissed by reaching a civil compromise with the merchant. For example, a restitution settlement could encourage the store owner to drop the charges. These sorts of negotiations – with both the merchant and the prosecutor – should be handled by an attorney who has experience handling shoplifting cases.

Call Princeton NJ Shoplifting Attorneys

The attorneys at Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson are prepared to help you beat your shoplifting charges. Call us now to speak with a member of our litigation team, or email us to schedule a free, in-person consultation at our Pennington or Trenton offices.