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Shoplifting Charge N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11

Shoplifting – A Disorderly Persons Offense

Shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey Municipal Court if the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $200. If the merchandise costs a little more than $200, it will be sent to the county prosecutor for review.  You need to have an attorney before this happens.  Depending on your situation, you may want to keep the matter in Superior Court or may want to have it sent back down.  You do not get a say in this decision, but the RIGHT LAWYER can help make this happen for you in some circumstances.

What Is Shoplifting?

  1. Purposely take merchandise from a store without paying with intention to deprive owner
  2. Purposely conceal merchandise from a store without paying with intent to deprive owner
  3. Purposely alter, transfer or remove any label, price tag or marking of value on merchandise offered for sale, or attempt to purchase at less than full value with intent to deprive owner
  4. Purposely transfer merchandise from its container with intent to deprive owner
  5. Purposely to under-ring with intent to deprive owner
  6. Purposely remove a shopping cart from store without consent with intent to permanently deprive owner

Types of Shoplifting In New Jersey

  1. Purposely Taking Merchandise. The first prohibited act deals with a person who purposely takes merchandise from a store. The defendant must do this with the intent of depriving the owner of the merchandise of its benefit (i.e. value) without paying for it.
  2. Concealment. The shoplifting statute is also intended to address a person purposely concealing merchandise offered for sale by a merchant. “Conceal” means to obscure an object such that it is not visible through ordinary observation. The concealment must be undertaken with the intent to consummate a theft. Intent is presumed where an individual conceals merchandise yet to be paid for. This presumption may be rebutted through presentation of evidence manifesting innocence.
  3. Altering or Transferring a Price Tag. Shoplifting may also be established where an individual alters, transfers or removes a label or price tag. This conduct must be undertaken with the intention of depriving the merchant of the true value or consideration intended to be paid for the merchandise.
  4. Transferring Merchandise to another Container. A person also commits shoplifting where he purposely transfers merchandise into a container with intent to commit a theft of the merchandise.
  5. Under–Ringing of Merchandise. Under-ring means to cause the sale to reflect less than the full retail value of the merchandise. The state must prove that the under-ring was purposely done. The preparation of fraudulent refund receipts is not encompassed within the offense of under-ringing sales receipts. The offense is directed to merchandise leaving the store and not merchandise being returned to the store.

Under New Jersey shoplifting laws, you could be found guilty of shoplifting if you have been found to be in possession of a store’s merchandise after exiting the store without paying for it.  There is also a presumption under New Jersey law that you were shoplifting if the merchandise is concealed on your person.  If this is the case the evidence is certainly not stacked in your favor, however, that does not mean that your case is lost, or that your intent doesn’t matter. For example, if you put an item into your pocket to free your hands while wrestling with a toddler and forgot about the item, but you were not actually intending to steal the item, then under the law you are not guilty of shoplifting.

What Are The Penalties For Stealing Less Than $200 Of Merchandise In New Jersey?

  • In addition to fines and restitution that may be imposed, you may be sentenced to jail. If your matter is a disorderly persons offense, jail time will not be more than 6 months. If your matter is a petty disorderly persons offense, jail time will not be more than 30 days.
  • community service:
    • ​first offense – at least 10 days
    • second offense – at least 15 days
    • third or more offense – maximum 25 days and minimum jail term of 90 days

Want To Talk To A New Jersey Shoplifting Attorney? 

Call us at 609-392-7600 to discuss your case. Make sure the lawyer you hire is experienced, like us, in handling this type of ticket. Otherwise, you will have a few surprises you were not warned of.

We handle Municipal Court violations/offenses in Mercer County, Middlesex County, and Burlington County. 

Mercer County: Hamilton, Trenton, Ewing, Lawrence, Pennington, East Windsor, West Windsor, Hopewell, Princeton Township, Princeton Borough, Hightstown, and Robbinsville.

Middlesex County: Plainsboro, Cranbury, East Brunswick, South Brunswick, and Sayreville.

Burlington County: Bordentown, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Willingboro, Mt. Holly, Florence, and Pemberton.Call our office at 609-392-7600 to discuss your case NOW.