Ridgefield Park NJ Shoplifting Lawyer

     New Jersey Shoplifting offenses can result in Years in Prison, Fines, and a Criminal Record.  With over 40 Years experience with NJ shoplifting cases as Judge, Prosecutor, and Criminal Defense Lawyerwe have helped thousands of clients avoid the harsh penalties of a criminal conviction, having charges dropped outright, downgraded, or diverting them from the Criminal Justice system. Call today for a free consultation with a Ridgefield Park Shoplifting Lawyer.


What are the Penalties?

NJs Shoplifting penalties depend generally on how much property was allegedly taken.  If the incident involved an organized criminal enterprise, the grade of the offense may differ.   For the full statute see here:     

If the property allegedly stolen is valued under $200, the charge is a disorderly persons offense and you will be subject to:

  • Up to six months in Jail
  • Up to $1,000 Fine

If the property allegedly stolen is valued between $200 and $500, the charge is a fourth degree crime and you will be subject to:

  • Up to 18 Months Prison
  • Up to $10,000 Fine
  • Criminal Record

If the property allegedly stolen is valued between $500 and $75,000, the charge is a 3rd degree crime and you will be subject to:

  • 3-5 Years in Prison                                     
  • Up to $15,000 Fine                                    
  • Criminal Record 

If the property allegedly stolen is valued over $75,000, the charge is a 2nd degreen crime and you will be subject to:

  • Up to 10  Years in Prison 
  • Up to $150,000 Fine
  • Criminal Record

In addition to the above penalties the defendant may be required to pay restitution to the injured party.  With all shoplifting crimes there is also an element of mandatory community service, with a possible 25 day sentence.  


Can I fight my Shoplifting Charge?

An experienced Ridgefield Park Shoplifting Defense Attorney can help you in several ways.  In all cases we try to have the case dismissed outright if the arrest was anyway improper.  That means the slightest defect in the State's case, from lack of probable cause, to the way the store security officers detained you, and numerous other technicalities, may foreclose prosecution.  

Even if there are no avenues of total defense, a Ridgefield Park NJ Shoplifting Lawyer can still help by working with the prosecutor to downgrade or plead the offense to one with minimal fines, no jail time, and no criminal record that could harm your future livlihood.

There are hundreds of possible defenses against the State's case, and only an experienced Ridgefield Park NJ shoplifting defense lawyer will recognize them all.  A conviction for shoplifting can carry lifetime consequences, and it is important to protect yourself with the best Criminal Defense possible.


What is Shoplifting?

     Shoplifting is one of the most common criminal offenses in Ridgefield Park New Jersey.  The offense is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11, and defines shoplifting in short as:

  • Taking of merchandise without paying for it;
  • Purposely concealing merchandise with the intent to take without paying, or;
  • Altering pricetags so as to pay a reduced price, or otherwise under-ring the item.

For the full statute please see here


Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when a minor (juvenile), someone under 18 years old, is arrested for shoplifting?

When a minor is caught shoplifting, they should be charged with Juvenile Delinquency instead of shoplifting.  Although NJ’s juvenile justice system is generally more lenient and provides greater latitude for a Judge to craft an appropriate punishment, someone thus charged can still face nearly the same consequences as if faced with a shoplifting charge instead.  For more information on this please see here.

The police are about to arrest me, what do I do?

In nearly all circumstances we tell our clients it is best to remain silent until they have consulted with us.  The police will try to have you implicate yourself, it is imperative you do not give them any more ammunition to convict you with.  If you are about to be arrested or have been, do not talk to anyone until you contact a Ridgefield Park NJ shoplifting lawyer.

Can I just pay the property owner (victim) back, and avoid prosecution?

It is often possible, as part of a plea agreement, in exchange for a reduction or dismissal of charges, it is possible to negotiate a payment of compensation for damage.  This is especially true with regard to minors.  

This is not always an option however, in many cases the prosecutor may wish to charge criminally and require compensation concurrently. Before doing so in either case however, you should consult our criminal defense team as occasionally repayment may be used against you in court as evidence of guilt.

What is the difference between 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and Disorderly Persons Shoplifting in NJ?

The difference is in the gradation of the offense.  The gradation of a NJ Shoplifting offense, as outlined above, generally depends upon the amount of property stolen.  For a 3rd degree shoplifting, the possible jail time is a presumptive 3-5 years in prison.  This is a very dangerous crime to be charged with, and is very common given the low threshhold of only taking $501 worth of property.  For a 4th degree shoplifting charge, the possible jail time is 18 months in prison.  For a Disorderly Persons grade of shoplifting, you will face a maximum possible 6 months of jail.

2nd Degree shoplifting occurs far less frequently as an accused has to have stolen over $75,000 of merchandise or have been involved with an organized criminal enterprise.  2nd degree offenses carry up to 10 years in prison.

If the crime is a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree charge, it will be heard not in Fort Lee, but in the Bergen County Superior Court.  These cases are far more dangerous to a defendant and so immediate representation by a criminal defense lawyer is imperative as we can often help the case be downgraded back to Ridgefield Park.

If they have caught me and there are no defenses, what can I do?

In some situations the police have caught the defendant dead to rights and there are no defenses.  In situations like these we have often been successful in downgrading the offense to a far lesser penalty and no jail time.  Another approach is to enter our client into a diversionary program such as Pre Trial Intervention (PTI) or Conditional Discharge (CD).  These programs provide the benefit of no jail time and no criminal conviction.  We have been successful with combinations of the two as well when dealing with high level offenders.

I have been convicted for shoplifting before, but in another state, how does this affect the case?

There is a mandatory 90 days in prison for third time shoplifting offenses.  Otherwise, New Jersey's shoplifting law does not specifically include a step up provision for repeat offenders, and therefore there is not necessarily any increase in penalties.  Judges do however take note of prior offenses in their sentencing decisions and will more often than not give greater, if not maximal, sentences for repeat offenders.  If you have been caught in any state including NJ for shoplifting or other related offenses it is even more urgent to be represented by a compentent New Jersey shoplifting defense lawyer.

How long after a shoplifting conviction can I have it expunged from my permanent record?

The term someone must wait to expunge their records of any crime depends on the nature of the crime and its gradation.  The minimum time to expunge a record is 3-years.  This time can be abbreviated if a client is entered into a diversionary program as discussed above.

How does a shoplifting charge / conviction affect my immigration status?

The United States has very restrictive immigration laws, and a Ridgefield Park NJ Shoplifting charge can have dire consequences, including possible deportation and inadmissibility back into the US.  

Shoplifting charges are generally considered a crime “involving moral turpitude.”    The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is mandated to remove non-citizens who commit certain crimes, including crimes “involving moral turpitude”.  Because of this, it is even more urgent for Green Card holders, Visa holders, Permanent Residents, or non-citizens to be represented by a shoplifting defense lawyer, and fight the charges.  

If you have been charged with any criminal offense in NJ and are not a citizen, don’t risk immigration consequences.  Our lawyers have great success in protecting our clients from the immigration consequences of shoplifting.

What is the difference between Shoplifting and Theft?

When a Theft and Shoplifting are very similar crimes.  Both crimes carry nearly identical punishments, and proofs.  Shoplifting is what is charged when people steal from a store, whereas theft is generally any other taking.  For more information on NJ Theft charges, please see here.

Where do you practice?

Our NJ Shoplifting Defense Attorneys regularly defend clients in Bergen, Hudson, Passaic, Morris, Union, Sussex, and Essex counties.  We also regularly are able to have the charges downgraded and heard in the municipal courts of the State, including Ridgefield Park.

I only accidentally took the merchandise, is this a defense?

Accidental shoplifting happens more often than one would think.  Often times someone will walk out of a store just to have the electronic countermeasures sound an alarm.  In cases like this, we are often successful in convincing the store to not press charges for a simple mistake.  Other times we have to convince a Judge or prosecutor that this was happenstance and a client had no intent to steal.  These shoplifting cases happen most often in the NJ Malls, such as the Garden State Plaza.  

New Jersey's shoplifting statute, 2C:20-11, makes it fairly difficult to defend on this basis, however, as it gives a presumption of an intent to steal.  Even so, every case is very fact sensitive and require careful review, for a free consultation, please call 201-943-2445 to schedule an appointment with one of our New Jersey Criminal Shoplifting Defense Lawyers.

The stores security guards detained me against my will, is this a defense?

A store like TJ Max, Macys, or any other merchant can employ private security.  If a store clerk, or security employees has probable cause to believe someone is stealing or otherwise committing a theft, they may detain them. Any detention must be only for a reasonable time to investigate or to otherwise alert the police.  The employees must also be reasonable as to the means the employ to hold someone (it cannot be just a hunch, or racism).  This reasonableness requirement is an often missed defense in shoplifting cases.  If you have been accused of shoplifting in NJ, and feel that the store employees / clerks were overzealous and impermissibly detained you, you may be able to fight the case.  For a free consultation, please call us at 201-943-2445.


Ridgefield Park Municipal Court Information:

The Ridgefield Park Municipal Court is held at 234 Main Street, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey 07660.  Court is scheduled on  Wednesday's at 4:00 P.M.

Judge: Hon. F. Terrance Perna

Court Administrator: Susana P. Vargas - Extension 104

Prosecutor: Thomas Quirico - 201-489-0989, Fax 201-489-1979

Phone:  201-641-6403 Ext 3

Fax: 201-440-3309

Ridgefield Park Municipal Court Office Hours:

Monday - Friday: 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M

Police Records Officer: 

Lt. Chris Thibault - 201-641-6400, Ext 124


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