A shoplifting charge in New Jersey can become either a misdemeanor or felony case. The case’s severity depends on the monetary value of the items stolen. The consequences of shoplifting can also vary greatly.
Any act that includes an attempt to take possession of an item without providing proper compensation constitutes shoplifting. Criminal law statutes include deceptive attempts to pay less than the price for items among the list of actions that can trigger a shoplifting charge. Specific shoplifting examples include removing merchandise from a store without making payment and concealing possession of an item. Individuals can also face shoplifting charges for changing or altering a price tag.
Penalties for shoplifting
First-time shoplifters who take property valued at less than $200 face petty theft charges with a maximum of 10 days in jail. Stolen property worth more than $200, but less than $500, is enough to land a shoplifter an 18-month jail term. A $10,000 fine can also apply to this 4th-degree offense.
Third-degree shoplifting charges apply with stolen property valued from $500 to $75,000. The prison term that applies to these cases is three to five years. Third-degree shoplifting charges can also result in a $15,000 fine. Stolen property worth more than $75,000 is a second-degree case that can cause a shoplifter to spend five to 10 years in jail and pay as much as a $150,000 fine.
Shopowners in New Jersey victimized by shoplifters possess the right to seek compensation. Compensation is available to them through “fines” a shoplifter will pay to the store. The norm for a “shoplifting surcharge” is $150 when the store recovers the merchandise the shoplifter attempted to steal. Compensation to the store can be more with no recovered merchandise. Shoplifters will also become responsible for court costs and any legal fees the store owner encounters because of the theft.
Individuals accused of shoplifting will need to defend themselves to avoid some or all of the potential consequences. A person needing to prepare a shoplifting defense may benefit from the help of an attorney.