Charged with Shoplifting in Hoboken, New Jersey
Whether you want to sip perfectly brewed coffee along Washington Street, enjoy a carefully crafted meal, or absorb the vibrant New York City Skyline across the Hudson, Hoboken has it all. Aside from feasting on local treats in Frank Sinatra’s hometown, you can shop at any number of stores, as the retail environment is as diverse as the interests among those who frequent the town. While in Hoboken, New Jersey, you can stop in at small boutique chains such as Anthology, larger chains like Anthropology or, just need to stop for groceries at ShopRite, or grab a prescription at Right Aide or CVS. What you cannot do in Hoboken is shoplift, or attempt to steal from any store, without running the risk of being prosecuted for shoplifting.
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Hoboken, it is important that you hire an attorney who has experience and can fight for you. While we discuss a few scenarios in which you can be charged with shoplifting below, the fact is that there are countless facts that can give rise to charges of shoplifting in Hoboken and throughout Hudson County. We have seen cases where a person, just sitting in the car waiting for their friend to exit the store, is charged with shoplifting, despite not having participated at all. For this reason, you need an advocate who will not give up, who can walk you through the process, and who can help you make educated decisions concerning your charges. Regardless of whether you have a shoplifting case in Hoboken Municipal Court or Hudson County Superior Court, the defense lawyers at our local Hudson County criminal firm will fight for the best possible results on your behalf. Contact our office today at (201) 793-8018 for a free consultation.
Hoboken Shoplifting Charges
Shoplifting is the intentional taking of merchandise without full payment to the store. This can be accomplished by concealing items, under-ringing, switching tags, or just by leaving the store without making any payment at all. Each crime of shoplifting has penalties that are dependent on the degree of the crime as well the number of times you have been convicted of shoplifting in the past. In New Jersey, you can either be charged with a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) for shoplifting or an indictable (felony) shoplifting offense. The crime charge will depend on the amount/value of the item or items taken.
While you may think that shoplifting occurs more at higher end stores, the fact is that more reported cases occur in stores with items of lesser value. The NRF reports that most shoplifting crimes involve an amount taken between $2 and $200. In New Jersey, if the items taken amount to less than $200, you will be charged with a disorderly persons offense. While not a felony crime, you do face serious penalties. As such, if convicted, the judge can sentence you to up to 180 days in jail (90 days mandatory for a third or subsequent offense), mandatory community service, $125 in mandatory fines, up to $1000 in other fines, and he or she can even place you on probation. In Hoboken, if charged with a disorderly persons offense of shoplifting, you will attend court at Hoboken Municipal Court located at 100 Newark Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030.
If the amount taken is greater than $200 but less than $500 you will be charged with a fourth degree indictable felony. A fourth degree crime allows for a state prison sentence of 12-18 months, $10,000 in fines, or county jail and probation. The potential penalties do not end here because as the value of the items increases, so too do the penalties. If the value of the items taken is $500-$75,000, you could be spending the next 3-5 years in state prison and be forced to pay up to $15,000 in fines. Lastly, if the value of the shoplifted items is $75,000 or more, you will be charged with a second degree crime, which means that the court has no choice but to send you to prison. The prison sentencing range for second degree shoplifting charges is extensive, with a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10. Court for felony offenses involving shoplifting in Hoboken are heard in the Hudson County Superior Court located at 598 Newark Avenue in Jersey City.
Shoplifting in Hoboken Requires Intent
With self-check-out lanes on the rise in retail stores throughout the nation, so too are the number of reported shoplifting cases. Retail theft prevention organizational studies show that shoplifters report that self-checkout makes shoplifting easier to accomplish because no one is watching. These shoplifters had the intention of shoplifting either when they entered the store or somewhere along their journey. The difference between these people and others that are unknowingly caught in the crosshairs of a criminal complaint is their individual intent.
To be convicted of any crime in Hoboken or anywhere else in the State of New Jersey, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to commit the crime. In legal terms, the intent of the person is known as the as the requisite mental element or the “mens rea.” In a shoplifting case, it must be your intention or purpose to take an item without paying or without paying the full market value of the item. The result of your intention to take the item must be to deprive the store of the full retail value, or to create a scenario in which the store could have been financially hurt by your actions to permanently deprive it of the item(s).
Therefore, in the case of self-check out, if you forgot to pay for an item, the state may or may not be able to prove you shoplifted. Shoplifting is not making a mistake, accident, or forgetting to pay for something, or abandoning an attempt to steal. Shoplifting is a purposeful act and not accidental. If, for example, you are in the self-checkout lane and you forget to scan a lemon because it is buried under something, you may not be charged with shoplifting. Additionally, if in the process of scanning things, an item fails to scan and you are unaware and place it in your cart, it is less likely that you will be charged or convicted.
How does the State Prove a Hoboken Shoplifting Offense?
By now, you may be beginning to wonder how a store or the state can ever prove shoplifting if all you have to claim is that it was accidental. There are several ways in which the state can prove shoplifting but generally, it is done through circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial proof is facts and circumstances that make an allegation more believable. Using the self-check out example, if you checked out and in the course of doing so you forgot to check out a $100 wireless speaker, the store and the police would review the attending circumstances. They would look at what else was purchased, the amount of the items, and where the speaker was hidden in the cart. If you checked out $25 worth of groceries that included some spaghetti, pop tarts, and a plastic container in which the speaker was “accidentally” forgotten, chances are you would be charged. This is because the value of the items paid for were relatively low and it is assumed that you would have noticed a $100 item being missing from your receipt. The state would use the surrounding facts to impute knowledge to you. Often, the concealment of an item is used as circumstantial proof of the intention to shoplift.
Even if you did not leave the store with the items or you were caught red-handed, the state can use circumstantial proof to demonstrate or prove that it was your intention to shoplift. In other cases, such as concealment, shoplifting is easier to detect. For example, maybe you put on a new pair of shoes, leave your old ones in the aisle, and walk out without paying. It may be easier to clearly establish that you intended to take the item without paying. Similarly, if you are seen on video looking around and determining who is present and then you cut the display cord to a cell phone and place the phone under your jacket and quickly exit, you may be convicted of shoplifting.
Why Shoplifting is Taken so Seriously in Hoboken NJ
Statistics show that shoplifting causes substantial financial losses to the retail industry. Accordingly, the National Retail Federation (NRF), organized retail crime costs the industry nearly $30 billion dollars per year and, shoplifting costs approximately $75,00 per minute. Those who shoplift are typically adults that both steal and pay for items during the same shopping trip. Retail collectively employs more people in the United States than any other market. Shoplifting not only impacts the retailer itself but it can also have a crippling impact upon employment opportunity and overall costs passed onto the consumer. This is perhaps why law enforcement and prosecutors in Hoboken and throughout New Jersey take the offense of shoplifting so seriously. Basically, it impacts the retailer, the worker, and the consumer. Regardless of the seriousness of shoplifting crimes, people shoplift and are accused of shoplifting virtually every day in Hoboken and Hudson County. In fact, not too far in the recent past, the police arrested a couple for shoplifting after they crashed into a home in the area of 13th and Garden Streets in Hoboken while fleeing from CVS after allegedly shoplifting $1000 in items.
Hire a Hoboken NJ Shoplifting Attorney for Help with Your Case
If you are in need of help with shoplifting charges in Hoboken, New Jersey, the skilled team of attorneys at our firm are here for you. We can be reached anytime by calling (201) 793-8018 or contacting us online. Our skilled Hoboken shoplifting lawyers will explain your charges in more depth, the punishments to which you are exposed, and how we can help craft your best defense.