Due to the value of the goods that Macy's alleged she sold the case may be heard as a 4th degree crime at the Superior Court Level. If she is in fact guilty of shoplifting and the case remains in Superior Court, she may be eligible for a Pre-Trial Intervention. An attorney can get her into this program and after a year of probation (i.e. no more charges) the case will be dismissed. If However, the superior court sends it back down to municipal court she will likely be charged with a Disorderly Person's offense. That charges comes with a fine of up to $500 and up to 6 months in jail. You should contact an attorney with criminal experience soon.
She is looking at an indictable (felony) level charge. $500 is the cutoff between a third and a fourth degree crime. Depending on the county, this case may be remanded (sent back) to the municipal court as a disorderly persons offense. I think her best option is to try and keep the case at the county and put her into the PTI program. If she successfully completes PTI, the charges will be dismissed.
Dismissal will be very difficult. And shoplifting is a crime of moral turpitude, which poses challenges for immigration purposes. The penalties you listed are if you commit a fourth degree crime, which the full retail value of the items are up to $500.00.
If the full retail value of the items taken are in excess of $500, then it becomes a third degree crime, punishable by up to 3 to 5 years in jail and a very steep fine along with community service. The question at this point becomes not if a lawyer is needed. The question now becomes who you wish to retain to represent your wife in connection with this matter.
Speak to an attorney immediately about the legal fees associated with representation in both Municipal and Superior Court. Don't hesitate. She needs immediate representation. There are ways to fight the charge but you need a lawyer to do so. Good luck.
DISCLAIMER This answer is provided for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site cannot be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices law in the State where this offense is charged; and, who has experience in the area of law you are asking questions about and with whom you would have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question, or in the State where this charge is filed. I am an attorney licensed to practice in the State of New Jersey. Consult a local attorney if your case arises outside the State of New Jersey. If you found this answer to be HELPFUL then you can vote that this answer was helpful. If you found this answer to be the BEST ANSWER of all those presented, then you can vote that this answer was the best answer presented. Also, please be advised that any response to any comments made by the asker do not create an attonrey client relationship.
The biggest concern is her immigration status. Any conviction will result in loss of her status. There is a way to get her into the PTI program, which will result in dismissal of the charges and no impact on her immigration status. You don't necessarily need "the best" lawyer. You need the right lawyer who is going to be aggressive about getting your wife into PTI and concerned for her immigration status.
Great queston on how to find the truly best lawyer. First, realize there may be a dozen lawyers who are all very good and can get the best possible results- don't stress about fiinding THE best. Second, consider the opinions of friends who've used good lawyers, but don't put too much weight on this-- sometimes a bad lawyer gets a good result, and the client who got that good result will erronesouly think that the lawyer is very good. Third, consider calling about 10 criminal lawyers in the area. Ask each one who in their opinion are a couple of the best criminal defense lawyers in the area (other than themselves)-- if the same names keep popping up, good chance you have narrowed it down. Fourth, go the courthouse and ask a couple of the courtroom baliffs who they would recommned if their own family member was charged with tat offense.
You obviously need to retain a good criminal defense attorney right away. Your attorney needs to get her into PTI if the case is kept in superior court. Through PTI he can get her case dismissed after a year. This will maintain her immigration status.It may be harder to get dismissed in municipal court based on the facts but possible. I have had had a lot of success in Woodbridge over the years. Call my office for further assistance.
This answer does not constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or constitute attorney advertising.
The ability to get a dismissal depends on the facts of the case. However, she would need to clear any plea baragin with an immigration lawyer to ensure that the plea bargain does not jeopardize her ability to remain in the country, become a permanent resident, or acquire citizenship. This has serious immigration implications.
If you appreciate the time spent preparing this answer, kindly consider marking it BEST ANSWER or HELPFUL. Good luck to you.
Dean P. Murray
The Murray Law Firm
560 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
Mr. Murray's response is NOT legal advice and does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. You should NOT rely on this response. Mr. Murray's response was generated without conducting a full inquiry as would occur during a face to face attorney-client consultation. It is likely that the response above may be made less accurate, or become entirely inaccurate, as you, i.e. the questioner, disclose additional facts that should only be discussed during a private consultation with an attorney. I strongly recommend that you consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state (or, in the case of immigration law, and attorney in ANY state), whereupon all relevant facts will be discussed. All responses posted by Mr. Murray on Avvo.com are intended as general information for the education of the public, and not for any specific individual.
A dismissal is very unlikely unless she can defend the charge. In Middlesex County this will very likely be downgraded to Woodbridge. Although it would then no longer be a "crime" she would no longer be able to get PTI, which, if completed, would end with a dismissal of the "crime". Immigration may view the lesser offense in a better light anyway. You need to speak to an immigration attorney about that. Woodbridge will not dismiss except in very rare cases and will not give an ordinance normally.