Shoplifting Laws in NJ
Shoplifting is a serious offense that carries with it the potential for heavy penalties, from a disorderly persons charge to second-degree indictable crimes, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accusation. The statute governing shoplifting offenses in New Jersey is outlined in the N.J.S.A 2c: 20-11, and it applies to the following scenarios:
- Persons who carry away, take possession or transfer or otherwise contribute to the carrying away of merchandise in a store or retail outlet described in the law with intent to deprive the store owner of the full value of such merchandise
- Persons who conceal on themselves or anywhere else merchandise with the intent to deprive the merchant of full value thereof
- Persons who try to change or remove labels, price tags or other marketing that would help to determine value attached to merchandise and then attempt to buy them for lesser value, whether acting alone or with someone else
- Persons who try to swap merchandise from the original packaging to alternate packaging that would result in their being able to pay a lower price for the items
There are many more categories of NJ shoplifting offenses, but ultimately, individuals will be penalized for all attempted or executed crimes where they acted purposefully to obtain products in a retail/mercantile establishment without paying for the full value intended by the merchant.
Shoplifting Penalties in NJ
For first-time shoplifting offenders, the statute mandates ten days of community service. Second-time offenders must do 15 days of community service while a maximum of 25 days is imposed on third-time and subsequent offenders.
Also, third-time offenders are liable to a minimum mandatory jail term of three months (90 days). However, first- and second-time offenders may also attract jail time if they are charged with higher offenses such as fourth, third or second-degree indictable offenses. Shoplifting offenses are graded, just like all other theft offenses, according to the value of items stolen or value defrauded as follows:
- Second degree – $75,000 and higher
- Third degree – $500 to $75,000
- Fourth degree – $200 to $500
- Disorderly persons – $200 and lower
In addition, amounts can be aggregated by the prosecutor resulting in a more serious crime in cases where a person demonstrates “continuing course of conduct,” e.g. a person shoplifting from three different stores in one day. Therefore, it is imperative that persons facing NJ shoplifting charges of this nature have a good defense on their side.
Shoplifting Defense Attorney in New Jersey
Persons charged with shoplifting in New Jersey should speak to an experienced lawyer for their defense as soon as possible, to give adequate time for the defense attorney to craft a strong defense that will increase the chances of a favorable resolution to the matter. This may be through dismissal of charges, reduced charges or reduced sentences depending on the merits of each case.
Contact The Law Office of Benjamin Friedman if you are facing shoplifting charges in NJ, and get assistance from an experienced attorney. Set up your free consultation by calling our office today. We are conveniently positioned in the heart of Marlton, New Jersey.