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Kenneth Vercammen & Associates
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Civil Model Jury Charge 3.20 F. Shoplifting (N.J.S.A.

Civil Model Jury Charge3.20F.Shoplifting(N.J.S.A.2C:20-11)FALSE IMPRISONMENT (FALSE ARREST)model jury charge

It is the law of this State that a law enforcement officer, or a special officer, or a merchant, who has probable cause to believe that a person has willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise may, for the purpose of attempting to recover the merchandise, take the person into custody and detain him/her in a reasonable manner for not more than a reasonable time.

So, in deciding whether plaintiff was falsely imprisoned, there are two decisions you are going to have to make.

The first is that plaintiff must prove, by the greater weight of the evidence, that defendant intentionally detained or restrained plaintiff in his/her personal liberty or freedom of movement by taking him/her into custody.

The second, assuming you find that defendant did intentionally restrain plaintiff by taking him/her into custody, involves defendants claim that he/she had probable cause to believe that plaintiff willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise; that the merchandise could have been recovered by taking plaintiff into custody; that plaintiff was taken into custody in order to try to recover the merchandise; and that plaintiff was detained in a reasonable manner only for a reasonable time.

Probable cause in this regard means that the facts and circumstances known to the officer or merchant were those which would lead a reasonably cautious person to believe that plaintiff had willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise, and that he/she could attempt to recover the merchandise by taking plaintiff into custody and control.Probable cause must be more than mere conjecture or unfounded suspicion.

Willfully means conduct which is intentional and knowledgeable.If plaintiff meant to conceal unpurchased merchandise and was aware that he/she was concealing the unpurchased merchandise, then his/her conduct was willful.The fact that unpurchased merchandise was found concealed upon his/her person or among his/her belongings is evidence for consideration by you, from which you may draw an inference of willful concealment, although you are not required to do so.If you make that inference, it becomes a factor which remains in this case for your consideration together with all of the other facts in the case.

A detention for a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner means the amount of time and the manner that a reasonably cautious person under the circumstances would take or use in attempting the recovery of the unpurchased merchandise by placing a person into custody.

The reasonableness of the time and manner of detention would be affected by the type and size of object allegedly concealed, the cooperation or the lack of cooperation of the person detained in effecting the recover, the place and manner in which he/she was detained, and any other factors that you might think had a bearing on the reasonableness of the time and manner of detention.

If you find that plaintiff was intentionally restrained or confined and that the defendant lacked probable cause either to believe that the plaintiff had willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise or that the defendant could attempt to recover such merchandise by taking plaintiff into custody; or that defendant took the plaintiff into custody in an unreasonable manner or for an unreasonable time, then you must conclude that the detention was unlawful, and you should find that there was a false imprisonment.

If you believe that the plaintiff had willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise and that he/she could attempt to recover that merchandise by taking the defendant into custody, and that the defendant took the plaintiff into custody for this purpose and that he/she detained the plaintiff in a reasonable manner for a reasonable time, then you must find that the detention was lawful. This would mean that there was no false imprisonment.

[go on to Damages (False Imprisonment False Arrest)), Charge 8.47C]


Recent legislation in the sensitive area of shoplifting has further extended the citizens authority to arrest where he/she is a merchant or the employee of a merchant.N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11(e) states:

A law enforcement officer, or a special officer, or a merchant, who has probable cause for believing that a person has willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise and that he/she can recover the merchandise by taking the person into custody, may, for the purpose of attempting to effect recovery thereof, take the person into custody and detain him/her in a reasonable manner for not more than a reasonable time, and the taking into custody by a law enforcement officer or special officer or merchant shall not render such person criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever.

Any law enforcement offer may arrest without warrant any person he/she has probable cause for believing has committed the offense of shoplifting as defined in this section.

A merchant, who causes the arrest of a person for shoplifting, as provided for in this section, shall not be criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever where the merchant has probable cause for believing that the person arrested committed the offense of shoplifting.

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11(d) further presumes:

Any person purposely concealing unpurchased 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.

Instructions of the court should not include phrase prima facie in speaking of evidential impact of proof of possession (gambling paraphernalia).State v. Ruggiero, 41N.J. 4 (1963).

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Since 1985, KENNETH VERCAMMEN has worked as a personal injury attorney, working for injury victims and their families. By taking a hard-hitting, aggressive approach toward the insurance companies, KENNETH VERCAMMEN and our co-counsel have consistently obtained outstanding results for many injured clients over the years I am proud to have worked on cases in various capacities, small and large. While obviously prior results cannot guarantee the outcome of future cases, I can guarantee that you case will receive the same degree of dedication and hard work that went into each of these prior cases.

In direct contrast to the hard-hitting approach we take toward the insurance companies is the soft approach we take toward our clients. I am proud of my compassionate staff as I am of the outstanding financial results they have achieved. For many years, I have watched them treat our clients with patience, dignity and respect. I would have it no other way.

Many years ago, I attended a seminar sponsored by the American Bar Association on Law Practice Management. This was to help insure that each of our clients is always treated like a person -- not a file! We recognize that you are innocent victims and that you have placed your trust in us. Please understand that we understand what you are going through. Feel comforted that we are here to help you.

If you retain KENNETH VERCAMMEN to represent you, we will give you the same advice we give each of our clients -- concentrate on your life, you family and your health. We will take care of everything else. Leave all of the work and worry about your legal rights to us. Trust us. Believe in us. Have faith in us as your attorneys. Understand that we will always to do what we believe is best for you and your case. Helping you is our job. In fact, it is our only job -- guiding injury victims like you through one of the most difficult times of your lives, with care and concern -- while fighting aggressively to the limits of the law to obtain compensation and justice for each of you!

Print our Personal Injury Questionnaire on our Website, Fill it out and Fax back, so we can determine if we can help you obtain an injury settlement. We would welcome an opportunity to prove to you what we have proven to thousands of injured clients -- that you can feel comfortable and secure in the fact that KENNETH VERCAMMEN - Trial Attorney We Fight To Win.

When you have been injured in an accident or collision, you are worried about who is going to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. The last thing you want is to be taken advantage of by an insurance company. If you dont protect your rights, you may not be able to make a claim.

Insurance companies have attorneys and adjusters whose goal is to pay you as little as they can. You need a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to fight for you. I am dedicated to helping your recover as much money as possible under the law.

You need an attorney who will work hard to protect your rights, maximize your insurance settlement and minimize the hassles of dealing with the insurance companies. You need an experienced and aggressive New Jersey trial lawyer with PROVEN RESULTS who will fight for you. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer can make the difference between getting what you deserve and getting nothing.

Without the threat of a lawyer who is willing to go to trial and seek a big jury verdict, why would an insurance company pay you what your claim is really worth? Lawsuits can be expensive, and many people do not have the money to pursue their claim. In every case, I advance all costs associated with pursuing your case and I do not ask you for a penny until we recover from the other side.

I am an experienced aggressive trial lawyer and a 3rd degree Black Belt. I am not afraid to take your case to trial if that is what it takes to maximize the amount of money your recover for your personal injury. I offer one-on-one service, and I will not hand your case off to an inexperienced lawyer or a paralegal.

Reduce the stress of making a claim.

Personal injury accidents can turn your life upside down. Making a personal injury claim can be difficult and time consuming. Once I take your case, you can stop worrying about dealing with the insurance companies and focus on recovering from your injuries. I take care of all of the paperwork, phone calls, and negotiations, so you can get on with your life.

p.s. For those clients who are afraid or reluctant to go to Court, KENNETH VERCAMMEN also offers a special -- For Settlement Only -- program. This means that if we are unable to settle with the insurance company, we will not go any further -- unless you want us to. You have my personal assurance that there will be absolutely no pressure and no obligation.

We handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.


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Kenneth A. Vercammen is the Managing Attorney at Kenneth Vercammen & Associates in Edison, NJ. He is a New Jersey trial attorney has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey each week on personal injury matters, Criminal /Municipal Court trials, and contested Probate hearings.

Mr. Vercammen has published over 125 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on criminal, elder law, probate and litigation topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He is the Editor in Chief of the American Bar Association Tort and Insurance Committee Newsletter.

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