Many people think of shoplifting as a harmless, minor crime that is often committed by teens. But in New Jersey, shoplifting is a serious crime that is committed by people of all ages. If you have been accused of committing this crime, it’s best to aggressively fight the charges to keep a shoplifting conviction off of your record. Don’t face this challenge alone—let the shoplifting lawyers at The Hernandez Law Firm lead the fight for justice.
What Are the Key Elements of Shoplifting in New Jersey?
It’s important to understand how the law defines shoplifting so you know what must be proven in order to convict you of this crime. In New Jersey, shoplifting involves:
- Taking merchandise from a retail store without paying for them.
- Concealing merchandise from a retail store on your person with the intent to steal it, regardless of whether or not you have actually left the store.
- Removing or altering the price tag on merchandise in order to avoid paying full price for an item.
- Moving merchandise within a retail store to another display to avoid paying full price for an item.
- Entering a lower price at the register when paying for an item.
- Stealing a shopping cart from a retail store.
Each of these acts is considered shoplifting. The state must prove that one or more of these acts occurred to convict you of shoplifting.
Is Shoplifting A Misdemeanor or Felony Crime?
Misdemeanor crimes are “disorderly persons offenses” and felony crimes are “indictable crimes” in New Jersey. Shoplifting can be charged as either a disorderly persons offense or indictable crime depending on the value of the property that was stolen.
If the stolen property was valued at less than $200, it is a disorderly persons offense. If the stolen property was worth between $200 to $500, it is a fourth-degree indictable crime. Shoplifting is a third-degree indictable crime if the value of the property falls between $500 and $75,000. The most serious charge is first-degree shoplifting, which occurs when the stolen property is valued at over $75,000.
What Are the Penalties For Shoplifting in New Jersey?
The penalties for shoplifting will vary depending on the value of the property stolen, as seen in the table below.
Value of the Stolen Property
Degree of Shoplifting
Up to $200
Disorderly Persons Offense
Up to 6 months in jail
$200 to $500
Fourth-Degree Indictable Crime
Up to 18 months in prison
$500 to $75,000
Third-Degree Indictable Crime
3 to 5 years in prison
Second-Degree Indictable Crime
5 to 10 years in prison
These aren’t the only penalties that shoplifting offenders will face. If you are convicted of shoplifting, the court may also order you to pay substantial fines. The victim, which is the retailer, has the right to take legal action against you in order to recover the stolen merchandise or the cost of the stolen merchandise.
Shoplifting is also classified as a crime of moral turpitude. As a result, a shoplifting conviction could lead to deportation for offenders who are not U.S. citizens.
How Can A New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Fight Shoplifting Charges?
The dui attorneys at The Hernandez Law Firm can defend you against shoplifting charges in a number of ways. The key to beating many shoplifting charges is proving that you did not intend on committing a crime. For example, you may not have intended on committing a crime by moving merchandise to a different display or removing the price tag. It could be a huge misunderstanding. You may not have realized that you were leaving the store without paying or concealing items while still inside the store. This is an innocent mistake that happens far more often than you may think.
Let the criminal defense attorneys at The Hernandez Law Firm review your case today. Our attorneys will build a compelling defense to help you minimize or avoid the legal penalties that come with a shoplifting conviction.
Call Now to Arrange A No-Cost Consultation With Our Shoplifting Attorneys
Don’t make the mistake of taking a shoplifting charge lightly. If you are facing these criminal charges, it’s in your best interest to fight them with the help of the shoplifting attorneys at The Hernandez Law Firm. Let our team stand by your side and work tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome in your case. To learn more about your legal options, schedule a free case evaluation by calling 732-286-2700 or submitting your information using the contact form on our website today.