It took a long time, but finally we reach Variation Seven.
Zack tried to put one over on Chipotle, and succeeded. So if Zack were caught and prosecuted, and relying only upon information provided, what defenses might available to him?
The key to Variation Seven is the assertion that the difference in value between the steak salad that Zack got, and the chicken salad that he paid for, “was minimal.” So why is that important?
New Jersey statute 2C:2-11b specifies that a charge can be dismissed when the conduct that gave rise to that charge was too trivial to warrant the condemnation of conviction. This is referred to as a “de minimis infraction.” So was Zack“s conduct “too trivial?” Who decides? The answer to who decides is that a judge decides. And it is not just any judge; it is a type of judge called an “assignment judge.”
If the assignment judge refuses to grant an application to dismiss, deciding that the action giving rise to the offense charged is not de minimis, and the person is convicted at the ensuing trial, Zack can appeal. And if the assignment judge does dismiss the charge because s/he deems the offense to be de minimis, the prosecutor can appeal. While Zack might have good reason to appeal, the same cannot be said for the prosecutor. It is likely that the prosecutor will not appeal. Thus, if a charge is dismissed on de minimis grounds, the case is probably over.