Under New Jersey shoplifting laws, you could be found guilty of shoplifting if you have been found to be in possession of a store’s merchandise after exiting the store without paying for it. There is also a presumption under New Jersey law that you were shoplifting if the merchandise is concealed on your person. If this is the case, the evidence is certainly not stacked in your favor, however, that does not mean that your case is lost, or that your intent doesn’t matter.
For example, if you put an item into your pocket to free your hands while wrestling with a toddler and forgot about the item, but you were not actually intending to steal the item, then under the law you are not guilty of shoplifting.
Prosecution for Shoplifting
It’s important to remember that the burden is always on the State to prove you are guilty, and that’s why having one of our experienced trial attorneys on your case matters. A careful evaluation of the evidence, which often includes video surveillance, police reports, and store loss prevention reports, as well as some specific personal facts about you that show you have no monetary need to steal, can provide a compelling defense, or show a clear deficiency in the State’s case.
Store employees are allowed to detain someone for a reasonable amount of time if they are suspected of shoplifting while store security or the police are contacted, but they may not use unreasonable force to detain someone. If you have been charged with shoplifting, our attorneys will take the time to evaluate all aspects of your case and work hard to protect your record, and bring it to the most favorable conclusion for you. Please call 732-303-7857 for a free consultation.
Trying to Cheat a Store by Tampering with Price Tags is Shoplifting
The crime of shoplifting also includes switching price tags, or attempting to alter a price tag to avoid paying the price as marked by the merchant. You may also be charged with the crime of shoplifting if you remove an item from its package or container and put it into another package to try and avoid paying the true cost.
Stealing a Shopping Cart is Shoplifting
If you leave a store’s property or parking lot with a shopping cart without intending to return it, you can also be charged with shoplifting.
What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting?
In New Jersey, the penalties for shoplifting are related to the full retail value of the merchandise that was stolen:
- Disorderly Persons Offense. If the full retail value is less than $200 you can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to 6 months of imprisonment.
- 4th Degree Shoplifting. If the full retail value is between $200 and $500 you can be fined up to $10,000 and be sentenced for up to 18 months of imprisonment.
- 3rd Degree Shoplifting. If the full retail value is over $500 but less than $75,000 you can be fined up to $15,000 and sentenced for 3-5 years of imprisonment.
- 2nd Degree Shoplifting. Full retail value is $75,000 or more, you can be fined up to $150,000 and sentenced to 5-10 years of imprisonment.
Additional mandatory penalties for convictions of shoplifting include:
- For a first shoplifting offense you can be sentenced to at least 10 days of community service;
- If you are convicted of a second shoplifting offense, you can be sentenced to at least 15 days of community service; and
- If you are convicted a third time (or more) you can receive up to 25 days of community service and imprisonment for not less than 90 days.
The criminal defense attorneys of Clark & Clark understand the situation you are in. It may help to know that prosecutors aren’t always as interested in sticking you in jail as they may sound. We should know. Two of our attorneys each worked for more than 12 years as prosecutors for Monmouth County, where they handled hundreds of theft, burglary and shoplifting charges.
For a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey shoplifting and theft crimes attorney, contact us by filling out the form on this page or calling 732-303-7857 today. We can explain charges and possible outcomes. We know the system; we know the law – and we know how to help with your defense.