People make mistakes. If your mistake involved shoplifting, it comes with potentially severe consequences.
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, 1 in 11 Americans admits to shoplifting. If charged in New Jersey, understanding the charges may help ease your situation.
1. Does New Jersey consider shoplifting a felony?
The value of the merchandise stolen determines whether you receive a misdemeanor or felony charge. The state considers anything under $200 a petty theft, which comes with a disorderly persons offense. Depending on the situation, you may receive a felony charge for anything over $200. The penalties and fines will depend on the degree of the charge.
2. What fines and penalties do I face?
Any shoplifting conviction results in unpleasant fines and penalties. A disorderly persons charge may come with six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. The next level, a fourth-degree charge for items valued between $200 and $500, bumps those consequences up to a $10,000 fine and an 18-month jail term. If you have stolen between $500 and $75,000, you will get a third-degree charge that comes with a potential five-year sentence and a $15,000 fine. Anything over $75,000 means paying $150,000 in fines and possibly serving 10 years in jail.
3. Can I get my shoplifting charge dismissed or downgraded?
For any shoplifting case, the accuser has to provide solid proof. If you received a disorderly persons charge for a trivial amount, you have the option to file a motion to dismiss. First-time offenders have the option to seek a downgrade to a municipal ordinance violation, which means no jail time.
Every shoplifting situation has its own nuances, but it is a crime that will stay on your record if convicted.