Legal Question in Criminal Law in New Jersey

Need shoplifting in NJ advice


Asked on 1/23/16, 12:29 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

SAUL SEGAN SAUL H SEGAN ATTY AT LAW

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Saul Segan Esq

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Answered on 1/23/16, 12:34 pm
Kenneth Vercammen,Esq. Kenneth Vercammen

Shoplifting defenses

The state must prove the Defendant had the “knowing” intent to commit a criminal act in a shoplifting case.

The defendant was not aware that there was a criminal act being committed. More info at http://www.njlaws.com/shoplifting.html

NJSA 2C: 4-2. Evidence of mental disease or defect admissible when relevant to element of the offense.

Evidence that the defendant suffered from a mental disease or defect is admissible whenever it is relevant to prove that the defendant did not have a state of mind, which is an element of the offense. In the absence of such evidence, it may be presumed that the defendant had no mental disease or defect, which would negate a state of mind, which is an element of the offense.

The NJ Model Jury charges set forth the elements of SHOPLIFTING [CONCEALMENT]

(N.J.S.A. 2C: 20-11b(2))

The statute provides in pertinent part that it is a crime 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.

In order for the finder of fact to find the defendant guilty of shoplifting, the State must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. that defendant purposely concealed upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by (name of commercial establishment);

2. that (name of commercial establishment) was a store or other retail mercantile establishment; and

3. that defendant did so with the purpose of depriving the merchant of the processes, use, or benefit of such merchandise [OR of converting such merchandise to his/her use] without paying the merchant the value thereof.

The first element that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that defendant purposely concealed upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by any store or other retail establishment. The term “conceal” means to conceal merchandise so that, although there may be some notice of its presence, it is not visible through ordinary observation.1 The term “merchandise” means any goods, chattels, foodstuffs or wares of any type and description, regardless of the value thereof.2

A person acts purposely with respect to the nature of his or her conduct or a result of his conduct if it is the person's conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result. That is, a person acts purposely if he or she means to act in a certain way or to cause a certain result. A person acts purposely with respect to attendant circumstances if the person is aware of the existence of such circumstances or believes or hopes that they exist.3

1 N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11a(6).

2 N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11a(3).

3 N.J.S.A. 2C:2-2(b)(1).

Purpose is a state of mind. A state of mind is rarely susceptible of direct proof, but must ordinarily be inferred from the facts. Therefore, it is not necessary that the State produce witnesses to testify that an accused said he/she had a certain state of mind when he/she engaged in a particular act. It is within the fact finder’s power to find that such proof has been furnished beyond a reasonable doubt by inference, which may arise from the nature of his/her acts and his/her conduct, and from all he/she said and did at the particular time and place, and from all of the surrounding circumstances.

…..

The third element that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that defendant acted with the purpose of depriving the merchant of the processes, use or benefit of such merchandise [OR converting such merchandise to his/her use] without paying the merchant the value of the merchandise.

WHEN OFFENSE CHARGED REQUIRES A PURPOSEFUL OR KNOWING STATE OF MIND, CONTINUE CHARGE AS FOLLOWS:

Although the statute refers to mistake of fact or law as a “defense,” caselaw makes it clear that it is not genuinely a defense at all: instead, it is “an attack on the prosecution’s ability to prove the requisite mental state for at least one objective element of the crime.” State v. Sexton, 160 N.J. 93, 99-100 (1999). Since it is obviously impossible for any single charge to “explain precisely how the offered defense plays into the element[s]” of every possible offense that mistake of fact or law could apply to (Sexton, 160 N.J. at 106), and at best can offer “a more general charge on the subject” of mistake of fact or law (State v. Pena, 178 N.J. 297, 319 (2004)), this model charge is organized by reference to the state of mind under N.J.S.A. 2C:2-2b contained in the offense charged by the State, and then by the degree to which the mistake of fact or law exonerates or mitigates the defendant’s guilt. As always, the trial court must tailor the precise type of mistake that defendant relies on to the facts of the particular crime or offense charged and the facts adduced at trial. State v. Concepcion, 111 N.J. 373, 379-380 (1988).

2 Since even an unreasonable mistake can negate the required state of mind for the charged offense, the statutory requirement that the defendant “reasonably arrived at the conclusion underlying the mistake” was eliminated and, therefore, is not referred to in this model charge. Sexton, 160 N.J. at 105; Pena, 178 N.J. at 306.

3 Sexton, 160 N.J. at 100; Pena, 178 N.J. at 306.

STATE OF MIND

Purpose/knowledge/intent/recklessness/negligence is/are condition(s) of the mind, which cannot be seen and can only be determined by inferences from conduct, words or acts.

A state of mind is rarely susceptible of direct proof, but must ordinarily be inferred from the facts. It is the fact finder’s job to find that such proof has been furnished beyond a reasonable doubt by inference, which may arise from the nature of his/her acts and his/her conduct, and from all he/she said and did at the particular time and place, and from all of the surrounding circumstances.

PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE

This defendant(s), as are all defendants in criminal cases, is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

REASONABLE DOUBT

The prosecution must prove its case by more than a mere preponderance of the evidence, yet not necessarily to an absolute certainty.

The State has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A reasonable doubt is an honest and reasonable uncertainty in your minds about the guilt of the defendant after you have given full and impartial consideration to all of the evidence. A reasonable doubt may arise from the evidence itself or from a lack of evidence. It is a doubt that a reasonable person hearing the same evidence would have.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof, for example, that leaves you firmly convinced of the defendant's guilt. In this world, we know very few things with absolute certainty. In criminal cases the law does not require proof that overcomes every possible doubt.

2C:20-11 b.Shoplifting. Shoplifting shall consist of any one or more of the following acts:


(1) For any person purposely to take possession of, carry away, transfer or cause to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the full retail value thereof.



(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.



(3) For any person purposely to alter, transfer or remove any label, price tag or marking indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment and to attempt to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of all or some part of the value thereof.



(4) For any person purposely to transfer any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail merchandise establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the retail value thereof.



(5 )For any person purposely to under-ring with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value thereof.



(6 )For any person purposely to remove a shopping cart from the premises of a store or other retail mercantile establishment without the consent of the merchant given at the time of such removal with the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such cart.



c.Gradation.

Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the second degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is $75,000 or more, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is $1,000 or more. 



(2) Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the third degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise exceeds $500 but is less than $75,000, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $1,000.



(3) Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the fourth degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is at least $200 but does not exceed $500.



(4) Shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $200.



 The value of the merchandise involved in a violation of this section may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense where the acts or conduct constituting a violation were committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same person or several persons, or were committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise.



Additionally, notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided in N.J.S.2C:43-6 or 2C:43-8, any person convicted of a shoplifting offense shall be sentenced to perform community service as follows: for a first offense, at least ten days of community service; for a second offense, at least 15 days of community service; and for a third or subsequent offense, a maximum of 25 days of community service and any person convicted of a third or subsequent shoplifting offense shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 90 days.



d. Presumptions. Any person purposely concealing uppercased merchandise of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store or other retail mercantile establishment, shall be prima facie presumed to have so concealed such merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof, and the finding of such merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of such person shall be prima facie evidence of purposeful concealment; and if such person conceals, or causes to be concealed, such merchandise upon the person or among the belongings of another, the finding of the same shall also be prima facie evidence of willful concealment on the part of the person so concealing such merchandise.

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Answered on 1/23/16, 12:48 pm
Jef Henninger, Esq Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq.

Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW 24 hours a day to discuss

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Answered on 1/23/16, 2:44 pm


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