Shoplifting or Theft Arrest Expungement
Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes expunged off of criminal records. In 2011, New Jersey reported 128,269 theft offenses, which amounts to 354 offenses every 24 hours. Approximately half of these offenses were for property worth less than $200, falling under the definition of shoplifting (2011 Uniform Crime Report).
Property value less than $200 – Misdemeanor
Most New Jersey shoplifting cases involve merchandise worth less than $200, which is a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor). (N.J.S.A 2C:20-11). Oftentimes, if it is your first offense, the court will offer a diversionary program, such as pretrial intervention. A diversionary program is an alternative to the traditional criminal justice process and usually involves some form of probation and/or community service. Completion of the program results in a dismissal of the original charges. However, a record of arrest will still be available to the public. You must wait for 6 months after you complete the terms of pretrial intervention to file for an expungement. If you did not receive a diversionary program and were convicted, you must wait 5 years after completion of your sentence before applying for an expungement. Alternatively, if your charges were dismissed for other reasons, you can expunge them right away.
Property value more than $200 – Felony
If the value of the property is worth more than $200, you may be charged with an indictable offense (felony). The greater the value of the property, the more severe the crime:
- $200 to $500 – fourth degree
- $500 to $75000 – third degrees
- $75000 or more – second degree
If you are arrested for a third or fourth degree offense, the court may offer you a diversionary program called pretrial intervention (PTI). If you successfully complete PTI, the original charges against you are dismissed. However, your arrest record will still exist and be available to the public. You may expunge this arrest record 6 months after completion of the PTI program. If you were not given a diversionary program and were convicted, you are unable to expunge your record until 5 or 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence.
How to Expunge Your Record
Once the required waiting period is over, you are allowed to expunge your shoplifting crime by contacting ExpungeMyRecordNJ & filing a petition with the superior court of the county you were charged in. If you have any questions on how to expunge your record, The Law Offices of Benjamin G. Kelsen are available to help. Almost all expungements for shoplifting charges are granted because these crimes are non-violent and relatively minor.