Articles Posted in Shoplifting Defense

Shoplifting under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 of the New Jersey Criminal code is one of the most common crimes committed in the state of New Jersey, and can often times be accused over mistake of fact or misunderstanding between vendor and customer. Specifically, there have been a large number of cases in recent years stemming from the popular women’s cosmetics store Sephora. The high number of cases stemming from this vendor revolve around its policies concerning free samples, which are not followed strictly by their sales employees, but can be enforced stingily by their anti-theft team.

Title 2c of the New Jersey Criminal code outlines shoplifting in its entirety as one of six offenses; however, we will be looking at the statute as it deals with purpose or intent. Specifically did you mean to take something and not pay for it? What that your intent? N.J.S.A 2C:20-11b(2), outlines the types of cases accused shoplifters generally encounter at Sephora. This section of the statute outlines that it is considered shoplifting,

“(2) For any person purposely to conceal upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the processes, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the value thereof.”

The attorneys of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo appeared in municipal courts across three different municipalities to represent clients facing shoplifting charges. Shoplifting is defined in Title 2C:20-11 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. The charge includes not only purposely taking store merchandise, but also purposefully concealing merchandise or altering or removing any price tag or label. The degree of shoplifting or the severity of sentencing primarily depends on the retail value of the items taken or the pecuniary loss sustained by the shopkeeper or store. Under Title 2C:20-11 shoplifting is a second degree crime if the value of merchandise taken is $75,000 or greater, third degree if greater than $500 but less than $75,000, 4th degree crime if at least $200 but does not exceed $500, and only a disorderly person offense if the amount is less than $200.

One of the key aspects of formulating a defense to shoplifting is discovery requests from the state. All three of the defendants being represented by Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo had been in and out of court for many months. As defense attorneys in these shoplifting cases, we utilized critical strategies, including procedural arguments rebutting the production of discovery, in an effort to dismiss flawed charges. Most notably, the prosecutor(s) from each case had failed to produce discovery by neglecting to bring forth proper video footage of each alleged theft.

Generally, a court should not dismiss a case for failure to produce discovery. However, in State v. Holup, the court held that if the appropriate motion is filed giving the notice that discovery was not produced in a case, with a request that a time be set by the court for the production of said discovery, then a failure to do so after the court’s set time may lead to a dismissal of the counsel’s charges.  Such motions are more commonly referred to as Holup Orders.

New Jersey ShopliftingAccording to NJ.com, three residents from Bayonne were recently arrested after a series of thefts committed at a local shopping center.

Earlier in the month, a 51-year-old man and two women, ages 48 and 32, allegedly stole a $578 television after first attempting to receive a refund for the item at customer service.

Several days later, the man accused of shoplifting allegedly went on to steal two vacuum cleaners, each valued at $329, on two separate occasions.