Do You Get a Criminal Record for Shoplifting?

  • Criminal Defense

Shoplifting offenses in New Jersey are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11. A shoplifting charge may not seem like a big deal initially. After all, the offense carries a presumption of non-incarceration. In most cases, the perpetrator won’t go to jail or prison. However, a criminal conviction can impact your life and criminal record unexpectedly.

Shoplifting is never okay, even if you consider it a petty crime. That’s why you may wonder whether you will get a criminal record for the offense. Several factors come into play in determining the answer to this question. An attorney from a New Jersey defense law firm can help you understand your risks and available legal options.

What is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is the unauthorized removal of goods from a store without paying for them. However, leaving a store without paying for merchandise isn’t the only crime that amounts to shoplifting.

In other cases, the intention to steal, coupled with the act of furthering the intent, can result in a criminal charge for shoplifting or retail fraud. Such actions might include:

  • Removing an item from its packaging and hiding it among other goods
  • Hiding or concealing an item in the purse, pocket, or under the clothes while still in the store
  • Removing security tags or theft-prevention gadgets
  • Altering the price tag

What Happens If You Get Arrested for Shoplifting in NJ?

One factor that determines if your shoplifting charge will go on your criminal record is whether you got arrested. If the perpetrator is a teen, the shop owner may only ban the teen for life and call his or her parents. Doing so may seem unfair, but the store owner is only being generous since they have a right to call the police.

If the perpetrator doesn’t get arrested and doesn’t receive a citation, the incident won’t go to their criminal record. If they’re reported to the police and arrested, the outcome depends on what happens next.

Did the Shoplifting Case Go to Court?

If the perpetrator is arrested and charged with a crime, the case will likely end up in court. The jury will decide the punishment for the charge. If there’s no conviction for the crime in court, it won’t go to the permanent record.

However, a sentence means the offense will go on the permanent record. It would help to hire the services of a New Jersey shoplifting attorney to create a solid defense to try to have the charges dropped.

Shoplifting Arrests vs. Shoplifting Convictions

Shoplifting arrests differ from shoplifting convictions. While a police officer may arrest you on shoplifting charges, only a judge or jury can affirm your guilt and convict you. However, some individuals may still view your criminal arrest record even without a sentence. It may show that the jury didn’t find you guilty, but the charge can still taint your reputation.

What are the Short-Term Consequences of Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is a form of theft and, therefore, a crime. In the short term, the establishment affected by the offense will decide whether to press charges. If they do, the perpetrator is arrested, their fingerprints taken and permanently recorded.

Stealing small items like a pack of gum attracts a summary conviction. The defendant could face charges for theft under $5000 and could face a fine, imprisonment, or both.

What are the Long-Term Consequences of Shoplifting?

In the long-term, the conviction, fingerprints, and all documentation surrounding the charge remain in the criminal record permanently. All this information is available to anyone who requests a criminal record check. Even if there was no conviction for the offense, the documentation remains in the criminal record. It could result in being denied employment.

How Long Does a Shoplifting Charge Stay On Your Record?

For minor offenders, a shoplifting charge may stay on their record for quite some time if they don’t go through the expunction process. For adults, the criminal arrest appears in their history permanently unless they hire a shoplifting lawyer in New Jersey to guide them on how to get shoplifting off their record.

Can You Have a Shoplifting Charged Expunged from Your Record?

The good news is that in New Jersey, you can apply to have your shoplifting arrest removed from your record if the judge dismisses the case. However, you must meet specific criteria for this to happen. You can seek the help of a law firm in New Jersey to get your shoplifting charge expunged, depending on whether you’re eligible.

The requirements to have a shoplifting arrest expunged in New Jersey are:

  • Completing any sentencing, including parole, jail, or probation
  • Satisfying any restitution orders or fines

Those who beat their shoplifting charge won’t have a criminal record but will have an arrest record. The defendants can have the record expunged right away without having to wait for the stipulated waiting period. A New Jersey shoplifting attorney can help you get the charges expunged immediately.

Waiting Period to Expunge New Jersey Shoplifting Charges

The law stipulates a requisite amount of time before a defendant can file for an expungement of their shoplifting criminal record. The length of the waiting time depends on the severity of the charge.

The value of the goods shoplifted determine the severity of the charge:

  • Goods worth $200 or less are a charge of disorderly person offense, and the waiting period is five years
  • Goods worth more than $200 are an indictable offense or felony, and the waiting period is six years

The waiting periods assume the defendant has no other offense on the record. The law allows for expungement for up to four disorderly persons convictions or one felony and three disorderly persons convictions.

New Jersey Attorney Fighting Against a Criminal Record on Your Behalf

A shoplifting charge may seem like a petty crime, but like any other criminal record, it can affect your life significantly. The charge or conviction stays on your criminal record for many years unless you apply to have it sealed. If it has been five or six years since the sentence, you can apply to have the record removed, depending on what it was.

Our defense law firm in New Jersey can provide legal representation right from when you get arrested for shoplifting to when you apply for expungement. We believe one mistake in your past shouldn’t hold your life hostage forever. Contact us to schedule a consultation for a FREE case evaluation.

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