Stealing is a crime that the courts of New Jersey punish severely, as even taking something with little value can land a person in jail. The crime of shoplifting can also come with a six-digit fine and a permanent criminal record. However, a criminal charge does not always lead to a conviction. The courts can drop a person’s shoplifting charges if they present the correct arguments in the trial.
The possible consequences
Shoplifting means stealing from a store in any way. The penalties for shoplifting in New Jersey depend on the value of the goods that the person steals. The possible consequences of a shoplifting conviction can be:
- If the object’s value was less than $200: a misdemeanor. It carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- If the object’s value was between $200 and $500: a fourth-degree crime and felony. It carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of a maximum of $10,000.
- If the object’s value was between $500 and $75,000: a third-degree crime and felony. It carries a sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
- If the object’s value was more than $75,000: a second-degree crime. It carries a sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Additionally, everyone with a criminal conviction for shoplifting must comply with a term of community service. Those who commit this offense for the first time must do ten days of community service.
The right of defense
Before a conviction, a person has the right to defend themselves in the trial. The judge could discharge the criminal charge if the arrest was unlawful. Also, a person must commit shoplifting willingly and voluntarily to count as a crime. Forgetting to take off a pair of glasses and walking away from the store wouldn’t be a crime if the person returned the object.
Having a criminal conviction for shoplifting can have severe consequences on life. However, those with a criminal charge can avoid these by building a strong defense in court. With evidence and statements, a person can avoid receiving expensive and difficult penalties.