Shoplifting Can Lead to Felony Convictions, Fines and Jail
At one time, shoplifting was viewed as a childish prank or even a teenage rite of passage. Though store owners and law enforcement may have looked the other way in the past, that is no longer the case. In New Jersey, as in other states, shoplifting is viewed as a serious crime that may result in a felony conviction, fines and jail time.
Shoplifting is a crime encompassing much more than simply taking an item from a store without paying for it. New Jersey shoplifting charges can be filed for actions such as:
- Concealing an item
- Failing to pay for merchandise
- Removing, switching or altering a price tag
- Transferring an item between two containers
In New Jersey, shoplifting is considered theft, with penalties dependent on the value and quantity of goods allegedly involved. For example, if the full retail value of the goods is less than $200, an individual convicted for shoplifting will face up to six months in jail and be fined up to $1,000. However, for values above $200, the fines can quickly increase to up to $150,000 and 10 years in jail.
Beyond the criminal penalties, a convicted shoplifter may be expected to make full restitution for the maximum value of goods involved, all court costs and the legal fees of the retailer, as well as pay a $150 civil penalty. Additionally, the convicted individual will be expected to perform at least 10 days of community service.
For adults facing shoplifting charges, it is imperative to speak with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney experienced in handling shoplifting cases. The lawyer can help you explore all avenues that may prevent a conviction, minimize penalties and preserve a clean criminal record.
For Parents With Children Charged With Shoplifting
Hearing that a child has been charged with shoplifting can be devastating for parents, especially since conviction may be disastrous for the young person. Depending on the value of the goods taken, the offense may be considered a disorderly persons offense or it may be considered a felony. In either case, the convicted shoplifter will carry a criminal record for the rest of his or her life that could impact college acceptance, housing options and employment opportunities for years to come.
Whether a child is a straight-A student or one who is heading down the wrong path, if she or he has been charged with shoplifting, it is essential for parents to consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer. The attorney will discuss alternatives available to protect the rights and futures of the child(ren) involved.