Shoplifting Charges in New Jersey
Shoplifting is a type of theft, just like robbery, fraud, and embezzlement. What sets shoplifting apart from these other types of theft is that it is committed specifically against retailers, rather than against individuals or groups. Because shoplifting is generally a nonviolent type of theft that results in the loss of relatively inexpensive items (generally $200 or less) and is frequently carried out by adolescents, many people think it is a relatively minor offense. But it is not. Shoplifting, like other types of theft, is a criminal offense that can result in serious penalties.
If you have been charged with shoplifting, work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine a way to defend your case in court. Do not assume that you must simply take your penalties – in most cases, you can defend your case and have your charge reduced or dismissed.
Examples of Shoplifting
Shoplifting is more than simply taking items off store shelves and leaving without paying for them, though this is a type of shoplifting that occurs in New Jersey stores and shops across the country.
Shoplifting can also include any of the following actions:
Purposely “underringing” an item for an accomplice. This is accomplished by a cashier charging a customer less than an item is actually worth for the item with the intention of either reselling the item for a profit or providing that customer with an unauthorized discount;
Damaging an item to purposely make it look used or worn to avoid paying for it; and
Concealing an item inside a container, then purchasing the container to avoid paying for the item inside.
Shoplifting Can be a Disorderly Persons Offense or an Indictable Offense
Whether an individual shoplifting crime is charged as a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense depends on the monetary value of the items stolen.
Shoplifting an item worth $75,000 or more is a second-degree crime, which can land an offender in jail for five to ten years;
Shoplifting an item worth anywhere from $500 to $75,000 is charged as a third-degree crime, which can result in a jail sentence of four to five years.
Shoplifting an item worth $200 to $500 is a fourth-degree crime, which can land an individual in jail for one year to 18 months.
Shoplifting an item worth less than $200 is a disorderly persons offense, which can have a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Criminal Defense Attorneys in New Jersey
Even for a seemingly-minor charge like shoplifting, it is important that you seek a receive adequate legal representation for your case. Otherwise, you could find yourself facing penalties and carrying a criminal record for the rest of your life. For legal guidance and representation when you are facing a shoplifting charge, contact Lansing & Hannum, LLC. We are located in Lakewood, New Jersey, and serve clients in Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, and Middlesex counties.