Shoplifting is a crime with various charges and penalties depending on the dollar amount of the items that were stolen. A shoplifting charge for an item under $200 is a disorderly persons charge. Defendants could face up to 6 months in jail. However, these charges are often reduced so there is no jail time. The penalties get tougher when the dollar amount of the stolen item is higher or if a person has been charged 3 times or more with a shoplifting disorderly persons offense. 

Leon Matchin is a New Jersey attorney with years of experience helping defendants’ shoplifting charges be dropped or downgraded. If you have received a shoplifting charge, contact Leon Matchin right away. He has numerous strategies to remove the charge from your record. He can also have penalties dismissed. Read on to learn more about shoplifting charges and the associated penalties.

What Does New Jersey Consider Shoplifting?

The definition of shoplifting is in New Jersey law section 2C:20-11. Shoplifting means a person took and carried away merchandise from an establishment without paying for it. It also includes purposely trying to conceal items, altering price tags, or transferring merchandise to a different container in order to try and get a sale price for the item. 

Pay close attention to these definitions. To face shoplifting charges, you do not physically have to walk out of a store with an unpaid item. Shoplifting can also be altering a tag and reducing the price by $10. In addition, physically removing a shopping cart from the premises without the merchant’s consent or intent to return is also considered shoplifting. 

You can face shoplifting charges if you are involved in any one of these acts. The actual charge and associated penalty come down to the dollar amount of the item or items stolen. 

Shoplifting: The Different Levels of Charges

Disorderly Persons Offense: This charge happens when the value of the stolen item is less than $200. The charge will be handled in the local municipal court, and the maximum penalty is 6 months of jail time. The jail time is discretionary. It can often be avoided if the attorney has the charges dismissed or downgraded.

Any stolen amount over $200 is a felony. This is handled at the county court level. Sometimes the judge will send the case back down to the municipal court for trial. Here are the felony charges based on the dollar value of the item stolen:

4th Degree Crime: Item stolen was at least $200 but not over $500

3rd Degree Crime: Item stolen cost more than $500 but less than $75,000

2nd Degree Crime: Item stolen was over $75,000

It doesn’t take much for a shoplifting crime to go from being a disorderly persons offense to a felony. This is where an attorney like Leon Matchin is very helpful. He will create a defense to have the charges dropped or at least downgraded to help you avoid jail time. A third offense of shoplifting comes with mandatory jail time of 90 days. If you receive a 3rd offense, Leon will try to get the charge dropped. This way, you don’t have to spend 90 days in jail.

How Can a New Jersey Attorney Help?

A New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin will always try to get your shoplifting charges dropped in court. If there is strong evidence of shoplifting and if witnesses come to the trial, it can be hard to get charges fully dropped. However, Leon may still be able to downgrade the charges so that you aren’t facing the harshest of penalties. A frequent goal is for the charge to become a local municipal ordinance violation. Another option is that judges can sometimes be convinced to drop charges if a defendant is a first-time shoplifter and agrees to enroll in a diversionary program for first-time offenders.

When it comes to shoplifting, there are several defenses that an attorney can use to successfully get charges dropped or downgraded. For example, the attorney can cast doubt on the fact that the witness identified the correct person as the shoplifter. The idea is that the defendant was improperly accused. Someone else actually committed the crime. Another defense is that the client was distracted. They accidentally walked out of the store without paying. Maybe a crying baby or important phone call distracted them. Sometimes, even a recent medical diagnosis can be a defense. For example, if the client was recently diagnosed with cancer, they may have been extremely distracted. They may not have realized they were leaving the store without paying for an item. Leon Matchin will work through the evidence of your case. He will ask you detailed questions to gain more insight into the situation.

Contact Leon Matchin For Help With Shoplifting Charges

Being charged with shoplifting can be stressful and scary. Don’t panic – contact Leon Matchin, a New Jersey attorney, for help. He has helped many clients get shoplifting charges dropped. He can also have the charges removed from their permanent records. If a dropped charge isn’t possible, he can have charges downgraded in order to avoid maximum penalties. His years of experience have helped him to learn common defenses to help when the case goes to trial. He can also guide you in understanding the level of your charge and the associated penalty based on the dollar amount of the item stolen. If you or a family member have been accused of shoplifting, call Leon Matchin today at (833) 732-7320, or contact him via email at [email protected]. He will set up an initial consultation to learn more about you and your case.