Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes that people are arrested for in NJ. Although most do not view it as a serious offense, they ought to. After all, according to it is a misdemeanor to be caught stealing an item worth less than $200 and a felony to be caught stealing an item worth over $200.
According to N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11, if you are convicted of shoplifting, not only could you face a fine, jail time, a criminal record, and loss of employment, but it could also affect your immigration status. Make sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid a shoplifting conviction and all of the fallout that comes along with one.
What Constitutes Shoplifting in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, there are five main kinds of shoplifting [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11]:
- Purposely Taking Merchandise [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11(b)(1)]: If a person purposely takes merchandise from a store with the intent to deprive the owner of its benefit (i.e. the value of the item) without paying for it, then he will be guilty of shoplifting.
- Concealment [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11(b)(2)]: If a person purposely conceals merchandise that is being sold by a merchant, then he will be guilty of shoplifting.
- In order to “conceal,” you must obscure the object in such a way that makes it not visible through ordinary observation. However, in order to count as shoplifting, the concealing must be done with the intent to carry out a theft.
- Usually, intent will be presumed whenever a person conceals merchandise that has not been paid for.
- Altering or Transferring a Price Tag [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11(b)(3)]: If a person alters, transfers, or removes a label or price tag on a piece of merchandise, then he too can be guilty of shoplifting.
- However, in order to be found guilty, it must be proven that you had the intent to deprive the merchant of the true monetary value of the merchandise.
- Transferring Merchandise to Another Container [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11(b)(4)]: If a person purposely transfers merchandise into a container with intent to commit a theft of that merchandise, then he will be guilty of shoplifting.
- Under-Ringing of Merchandise [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11(b)(5)]: If a person causes the sale to reflect less than the full retail value of the merchandise (i.e. under-rings), then he will be guilty of shoplifting.
- Remember, the burden lies with the state to prove that the under-ringing was purposely done.
- Also, the preparation of fraudulent refund receipts is not encompassed within the offense of under-ringing sales receipts.
- The offense is directed to merchandise leaving a store, not merchandise being returned to a store.
What is the Penalty for Shoplifting in New Jersey?
As with most theft crimes, the penalty is relative to the value of the property that was stolen.
- Disorderly Persons Offense: If you steal property that is worth less than $200, you can be imprisoned for 6 months and fined up to $1,000.
- Fourth Degree Offense: If you steal property that is worth $200-$500, you can be imprisoned for 18 months and fined up to $10,000.
- Third Degree Offense: If you steal property that is worth more than $500 but less than $75,000, you can be imprisoned for 3-5 years and fined up to $15,000.
- Second Degree Offense:If you steal property that is valued worth more than $75,000, you can be imprisoned for 5-10 years and fined up to $150,000.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or a loved one was charged with shoplifting in New Jersey, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights, fight to keep you out of jail, and do what he can to have your shoplifting charges dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.