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Retail fraud or shoplifting is more than a teenage mistake

Shoplifting is one of the more common criminal forms of teenage rebellion. Young adults will pocket something on impulse while at a store or even grab something and take off running because they assume they won't get caught. Despite the flippant attitude that young adults and even their parents may have about shoplifting accusations, New Jersey imposes strict penalties for those accused of spectrum retail establishments. Teenagers or young adults face jail time and fines if convicted, as well as the lasting stigma of having a criminal record.

How does New Jersey penalize shoplifting?

The total value of the property if sold for full retail value will determine the consequences someone faces. In some cases, the courts can downgrade a shoplifting offense and change it to a disorderly persons offense. However, typically the total retail value of the items involved will need to be less than $200 for the offense to qualify. Defendants could face up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in prison for a disorderly persons conviction. A shoplifting offense will carry bigger fines and longer prison sentences. A fourth-degree offense involves property worth between $200 and $500. A conviction would mean up to $10,000 in fines and 18 months in prison. Third-degree shoplifting involves property worth between $500 and $75,000. A defendant could face up to five years in prison and $15,000 in fines for a conviction or guilty plea. Second-degree shoplifting involves property worth $75,000 or more. The defendant could end up paying $150,000 in fines and serving up to 10 years in prison.

How do you defend against shoplifting charges?

There are multiple strategies for helping a young adult fight back against shoplifting allegations. From negotiating to have the charges reduced to a disorderly persons offense to challenging the video evidence used in court, there may be several possible strategies that can help your family minimize the impact of a youthful shoplifting offense. An analysis of the evidence and someone's criminal record can be a good starting point for planning a defense. Mounting a rigorous defense when someone you love faces accusations of shoplifting or similar property offenses will help them learn from this mistake or prove their innocence in the face of unjust accusations.

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