New Jersey Courts have become much tougher on shoplifting defendants. However, there are options available to mitigate the harsh consequences of a shoplifting charge, including creative plea negotiation, motion, and trial.
A first and second offense shoplifting conviction carry mandatory community service and a third offense conviction requires that you serve 90 days in jail. If the amount of merchandise is over $200, the charge is elevated to an indictable (felony) offense. Non-citizens need to be especially careful, as shoplifting is considered a crime involving moral turpitude for immigration purposes. I have handled many shoplifting cases throughout the state, give my office a call anytime for a consultation.
Customer who, following a billing dispute with a drug store regarding the cost of photo processing, took the finished photographs without paying for them, but gave his name and address to the store manager, was improperly found guilty of shoplifting, as photo processing constituted a service and, therefore, the store was not acting as a merchant when it contracted to develop the customer’s film. The photographs were not merchandise, because they lacked value to anyone other than the customer and were not salable, plus, by leaving the contact information, the customer could not be deemed to have purposely taken possession of the purported merchandise with the intention of converting the same to his own use without paying. State v. Goodmann, 390 N.J. Super. 259, 915 A.2d 79, 2007 N.J. Super. LEXIS 31 (App.Div. 2007).
Trial judge did not err in finding that coupons function as an important component of goods so as to qualify as “merchandise” within the meaning of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-11(a)(3). Liptak v. Rite Aid, 289 N.J. Super. 199, 673 A.2d 309, 1996 N.J. Super. LEXIS 145 (App.Div. 1996).
Dismissal pursuant to the de minimis statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:2-11(b), of a summons for shoplifting in violation of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-11(b)(2) was a mistaken exercise of discretion because defendant’s conduct, the taking of a hair bow from a store without paying, clearly caused the harm sought to be prevented by the shoplifting statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-11, and because the factors relied upon by the trial judge revealed little, if any, basis to support a finding of triviality. Those factors failed to distinguish defendant’s shoplifting offense from any other shoplifting offense, and because shoplifting was considered a serious offense, the risk of harm to society of defendant’s conduct was significant. State v. Evans, 340 N.J. Super. 244, 774 A.2d 539, 2001 N.J. Super. LEXIS 188 (App.Div. 2001).
Defendant student, accused of shoplifting three pieces of bubble gum in violation of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-11, was entitled to dismissal of the charge pursuant to N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:2-11(b) because the student’s conduct was de minimis within the meaning of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:2-11(b). State v. Smith, 195 N.J. Super. 468, 480 A.2d 236, 1984 N.J. Super. LEXIS 1110 (Law Div. 1984).
Security guard properly arrested defendant, a shoplifter, pursuant to former N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:170-100 (now N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-11) and former N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:169-3, because the guard was a law enforcement officer who could arrest without warrant any person she had probable cause for believing had committed the offense of shoplifting, and because the offense occurred within the presence of the guard. State v. Ferraro, 81 N.J. Super. 213, 195 A.2d 227, 1963 N.J. Super. LEXIS 533 (Cty. Ct. 1963).
a. Definitions. The following definitions apply to this section:
b. Shoplifting. Shoplifting shall consist of any one or more of the following acts:
The value of the merchandise involved in a violation of this section may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense where the acts or conduct constituting a violation were committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same person or several persons, or were committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise.
Additionally, notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided in N.J.S.2C:43-6 or 2C:43-8, any person convicted of a shoplifting offense shall be sentenced to perform community service as follows: for a first offense, at least ten days of community service; for a second offense, at least 15 days of community service; and for a third or subsequent offense, a maximum of 25 days of community service and any person convicted of a third or subsequent shoplifting offense shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 90 days.
d. Presumptions. Any person purposely concealing unpurchased merchandise of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store or other retail mercantile establishment, shall be prima facie presumed to have so concealed such merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof, and the finding of such merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of such person shall be prima facie evidence of purposeful concealment; and if such person conceals, or causes to be concealed, such merchandise upon the person or among the belongings of another, the finding of the same shall also be prima facie evidence of willful concealment on the part of the person so concealing such merchandise.
e. A law enforcement officer, or a special officer, or a merchant, who has probable cause for believing that a person has willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise and that he can recover the merchandise by taking the person into custody, may, for the purpose of attempting to effect recovery thereof, take the person into custody and detain him in a reasonable manner for not more than a reasonable time, and the taking into custody by a law enforcement officer or special officer or merchant shall not render such person criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever.
Any law enforcement officer may arrest without warrant any person he has probable cause for believing has committed the offense of shoplifting as defined in this section.
A merchant who causes the arrest of a person for shoplifting, as provided for in this section, shall not be criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever where the merchant has probable cause for believing that the person arrested committed the offense of shoplifting.
f. Any person who possesses or uses any anti-shoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure within any store or other retail mercantile establishment is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.
At The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC we have worked on many criminal defense cases including shoplifting charges. Contact us today for a free consultation with New Jersey shoplifting lawyer Anthony J. Vecchio, Esq.
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