What Is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is thought of as stealing an item from a store where the item stolen is offered for sale. In most cases, shoplifting prosecutions are handled by state prosecutors under state law. In New Jersey, most shoplifting cases will be prosecuted pursuant to the laws found in the New Jersey Revised Code. A shoplifting case can become a federal matter if certain acts take place before or after the alleged crime. If you are being investigated for shoplifting or any related federal crimes, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately.
What Are the Different Acts That Lead to Federal Criminal Charges?
Once state lines are crossed in the commission of any type of shoplifting or theft, then federal charges can result. If the criminal activity all took place within a state and there is no activity that crosses state lines in any way, then the respective state where the alleged acts occurred would handle the prosecution of any individuals involved, not the federal government. Some examples of activity that can lead to federal charges include:
- Taking stolen property across state lines for any reason
- Receiving stolen property that has crossed state lines
- An agreement between two people to commit a theft act that crosses state lines
- Stealing pre-retail medical products that are meant to cross state lines
Whenever an item crosses state lines, then it can be considered to affect interstate commerce. Whenever a state-level crime affects interstate commerce, then it falls under the provisions of federal law. This also activates federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Anyone convicted of transportation, possession, or sale of stolen goods under 18 USC § 2314 faces up to 10 years in federal prison. An individual can face up to 15 years in prison for a conviction regarding the theft of pre-retail medical products.
How Conspiracy to Commit Shoplifting Can Lead to Federal Criminal Charges
If you are working with someone else to transport stolen goods across state lines or receive or sell stolen goods that have crossed state lines, you can be charged with Conspiracy to commit the underlying crime. The federal Conspiracy statute covers almost any federal crime and applies when two or more people work together to commit a federal crime, and at least one of those people takes at least one step to make the crime happen. Defendants convicted of Conspiracy can be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison for the conspiracy charge alone.
What Are Some Common Defenses to a Federal Theft Charge?
To obtain a conviction for shoplifting or a related offense, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a theft act or agreed to commit a theft act that affects interstate commerce. There are several defenses that may be available to you, including:
False accusation – If you are being falsely accused of a federal theft crime, then you can show evidence to demonstrate that you are not the perpetrator. This can be an alibi defense or other measure to demonstrate your lack of involvement.
Lack of evidence – If there is not enough evidence to connect you to the alleged theft activity, then this can be used as a defense.
Not interstate commerce – if the crimes alleged only took place within a state and did not cross a state border, and were never meant to cross a state border, then the activity did not affect interstate commerce.
Constitutional violations – If law enforcement violates your Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches without a warrant or improper questioning without an attorney present, then you can seek to have any resulting evidence suppressed from the case.
If you are charged with a crime, then an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you determine what appropriate defense(s) you may have. The facts and circumstances of your case will help steer your defense approach.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
If you are facing a federal criminal case in New Jersey, your case will be handled by the United States District Court. This court has the authority to hear cases under its jurisdiction. There is one federal district in New Jersey, and cases heard in this district can be appealed to one of three different federal appellate courts. If you are not happy with the decision regarding your case in a federal district court, you have the right to appeal the decision to a higher court. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals is the court to which appeals from New Jersey Federal District Courts are typically made. The only appellate court above the Circuit Court is the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court chooses which cases it will hear.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are charged with a federal crime, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney who has experience in federal court. This experience can help you understand your case and the options available to you. An attorney can negotiate a plea bargain or take your case to trial if you choose. Remember, it is always your choice whether to accept a plea or go to trial, but your attorney can advise you on what they believe is in your best interests. Contact us today!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm Is the Right Choice
If you are being prosecuted federally for a shoplifting or theft-related offense, then make sure that you speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice for you.