How Does the State Prove a Shoplifting Case?
Getting arrested for or caught shoplifting can be embarrassing in the moment, and, even worse, can leave you with a criminal record that may show up on background checks run by subsequent employers. If you have been accused of shoplifting in Ocean County, NJ, you may be wondering how the state can prove that you meant to steal the item, as opposed to getting caught up in an unfortunate misunderstanding or forgetting that you were carrying or wearing the item as you were leaving the store. In this article, we provide some background on the crime of shoplifting under New Jersey law, and further examine the evidence that prosecutors might use to prove a shoplifting case against you. That said, there are many potential defenses for shoplifting charges and you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the unique situation in your case. Our highly skilled Ocean County shoplifting lawyers know what it takes to deliver the best possible outcome in your shoplifting case, whether you are facing charges in Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Brick Twp, Manchester, Mantaloking, Seaside Park, Toms River, Ocean Township, or another nearby area. Call our local Point Pleasant office anytime at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation.
What it Means to be Charged with Shoplifting in Manchester NJ
Shoplifting can be a very serious offense under New Jersey law depending on the value of the item that police accuse you of stealing. You can be convicted of shoplifting if you purposely take, pick up, hide in your clothing, or otherwise carry away (or cause to be carried away) any merchandise from a retailer without paying for that merchandise. You can also be convicted of shoplifting if you alter or remove a price tag from an item—or if you move an item out of its original container or packaging—to try to get a discount on an item. Taking a shopping cart from a retailer without any intention of bringing that cart back is also considered to be shoplifting in New Jersey. If you shoplift an item worth $200 or less, you face a disorderly persons offense and up to 6 months in jail. If you shoplift an item worth over $200, you can be convicted of a serious indictable offense carrying potential prison time in New Jersey. Depending on the value of the item, you can be ordered to spend years in prison, and you can also be ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
What Evidence can they use Against me in a Seaside Shoplifting Case?
With consequences that serious on the line, the state must be able to prove every component of a shoplifting offense beyond a reasonable doubt, one of the highest standards applicable in the United States court system. A prosecutor will often rely on CCTV footage from the store where you allegedly shoplifting, attempting to pinpoint the moment at which you placed jewelry inside your coat pocket, pulled a tag off a coat, or ripped the packaging off an item. The prosecutor may also rely on testimony from a retail security guard or loss prevention specialist who either watched you from his vantage point in security office or from some point in the store as you allegedly shoplifted one or more items. If police search your bag or your car and find several expensive items, particularly if you have multiple items that would not normally be seen together, such as five expensive iPhones, and you cannot produce a receipt, that evidence may also be presented to a judge or jury in your shoplifting case.
What are the Best Defenses for Shoplifting in Brick NJ?
While there are many ways to prove a shoplifting charge against you, an experienced shoplifting defense attorney may be able to convince a judge or jury that the prosecutor has failed to meet the high burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, they may be able to call into question that you intended to steal the items, arguing that you made a mistake, it was a simple oversight or misunderstading. Perhaps the person who allegedly witness the shoplifting offense does not appear in court when summoned, paving the way for a motion to dismiss. Or perhaps there is no video evidence and what the prosecutor does have is simply too thin to convict. A knowledgeable attorney with experience handling shoplifting cases can offer more information about defenses applicable to your case. Contact our seasoned shoplifting defense lawyers defending clients in Ocean County for more information.