In New Jersey, shoplifting can range from a disorderly persons offense up to a second degree crime. Most shoplifting offenses are heard in the Municipal Court, but can be heard in the Superior Court. Potential penalties for shoplifting can include mandatory jail time and community service and penalties are required by law to increase with every conviction. An adult or juvenile charged with shoplifting needs qualified legal representation to avoid excessive penalties and mitigate the damage a shoplifting charge can cause to you and your family.
Shoplifting in New Jersey (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11)
The following conduct is considered shoplifting in New Jersey:
- You purposely conceal or take possession of any merchandise offered for sale by any store with the intention of depriving the store owner of the use or benefit of such merchandise;
- You purposely alter, transfer, or remove any label or price tag of any merchandise offered for sale by any store in an attempt to purchase such merchandise for less than the full retail value;
- You transfer any merchandise offered by sale in any store from its container to another container with the intent of depriving the store owner of all or some part of the retail value of such merchandise;
- You under-ring the value of merchandise offered by sale in any store with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value; or
- You remove a shopping cart from the premises of a store without the consent of the storeowner with the intent of permanently depriving the store owner of the use or benefit of such cart.
Penalties for Shoplifting in New Jersey
Penalties for shoplifting depend on the level of the charge. Shoplifting charges are graded as follows:
- Second Degree Shoplifting: The retail value of the merchandise is $75,000 or more.
- Third Degree Shoplifting: The retail value of the merchandise is between $500 and $75,000.
- Fourth Degree: The retail value of the merchandise is between $200 and $500.
- Disorderly Persons: The retail value of the merchandise is less than $200.
Regardless of the level of the shoplifting charge, a shoplifting conviction also includes a mandatory sentencing of community service.
- First offense: at least 10 days of community service.
- Second Offense: at least 15 days of community service.
- Third or Subsequent offense: at least 25 days of community service and serve a minimum term of imprisonment of 90 days.
New Jersey allows victims of shoplifting (store owners) to impose civil penalties on those who shoplift from them. The law allows a civil penalty up to $150.00 to be assessed against individuals who steal from a merchant. N.J.S.A. 2A:61C-1. The victim is also entitled to recover for damage or loss of property, not to exceed $500.00 as well as additional damages, if any, arising from the incident.
These civil penalties extend to the parents of a juvenile who commits a shoplifting offense. However, the penalties shall not apply to a parent whose parental custody and control of such minor has been removed by court order, decree, judgement, military service, or marriage.
A merchant is also entitled to recovery of his or her reasonable attorneys’ fees in securing the civil relief. N.J.S.A. 2A:61C-1. A victim cannot recover attorneys’ fees unless: (1) the defendant has been convicted of shoplifting; and (2) the defendant was served with a demand for payment and failed to respond or rejected the demand within 20 days of notification.
Burlington County Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
Burlington County Criminal Defense Law Firm Daniel M. Rosenberg & Associates has the experience to successfully defend clients against shoplifting charges and knows that a conviction for a shoplifting offense cannot be taken lightly. Contact one of our Burlington County Shoplifting Defense Lawyers at Daniel M. Rosenberg & Associates for a free consultation about your defense and how to eliminate or reduce the negative consequences of a shoplifting charge.