For the most part, how harsh the punishment is for stealing is directly related to how valuable the items stolen were. If you shoplift and get caught, it’s very possible that you will be facing jail time if convicted. This is why you should strongly consider hiring a Bergen County criminal defense lawyer who can help you fight these charges and avoid a prison sentence.
What Are the Punishments If I Shoplift in NJ?
The penalties for this crime can vary based on how much you shoplift and what your criminal record looks like. A prison sentence is a possibility no matter how valuable the items stolen were. Charges can be divided up like so:
Disorderly persons charge: You could get up to six months in jail if you shoplift an item that is worth between $1 and $200.
Fourth-degree offense: This charge is usually leveled at someone who shoplifts an item valued between $200 and $500. You could go to jail for 18 months or face a fine of up to $10,000.
Third-degree offense: Stealing items valued between $500 and $75,000 can carry a jail sentence of three to five years and up to $15,000 in fines.
If convicted, you could also be forced to pay court and legal fees, as well as restitution to the store you stole from.
What Can Be Considered Shoplifting?
Taking items off of the shelf is not the only way to shoplift. There are other methods that people try to employ and the state of New Jersey takes them all quite seriously. People can be accused of shoplifting by:
- Hiding merchandise
- Changing labels
- Placing items in different containers
- Under ringing items as a cashier
In all of these situations, you are taking money from a store and they could have you arrested for shoplifting.
What If This is My First Shoplifting Charge?
If you are a first-time offender and you get a disorderly persons charge for shoplifting, you may be able to apply for the Conditional Dismissal program. As long as you have no criminal history, you may be able to enter the program by pleading guilty and going on probation for a year. If you do not commit any more crimes, your case will be dismissed after that year.
Do I Need to Hire a Defense Attorney?
A defense attorney from our firm can help you create doubt in the prosecutor’s case and fight the charges against you. If your lawyer cannot get the case dismissed, they can help you plead out to lesser charges with less severe punishments. There are options that can keep you out of jail, like the Conditional Dismissal program.
Schedule Your Consultation
When you are facing criminal charges, you need to pull out all the stops to defend yourself. Contact the Law Office of Boyd & Squitieri to schedule a consultation and learn more about what our seasoned defense attorneys can do to assist you. We will do everything that we can to help you fight for the best possible outcome.