Shoplifting in the state of New Jersey is defined by certain rules. Two acts most shoplifters think are not criminal acts are: Number one, exchanging price tags from one item to another and number two, removing a shopping cart from the store without permission. Obviously, hiding merchandise on your body, removing an item from its original package and placing it into another with a less expensive price, and hiding a small item within a larger item, so as to pay only for the larger item once at the register are clearly intentions to shoplift.
While laws for shoplifting vary from state to state, the laws in New Jersey are unique due to the process and monetary repayment to the victim. In New Jersey if you shoplift, it doesn’t matter specifically if you have an attorney or not, because the prosecuting attorney is still required to prosecute the case. So you may want to reconsider shoplifting in New Jersey no matter how little the item is worth because, if you stole that item from a store, and you are convicted, the store has every right and usually the intention too, to recover all monetary losses including attorney and court fees. It could cost you more than that impulsive act was worth. Still the best advice is to always obtain an attorney who will do their very best to keep you out of prison. Keep in mind that a department store will have its own attorney requesting monetary restitution in addition to what the prosecuting attorney is asking the court for.
In addition to all monetary awards for the victim, the value of the item taken is considered in the penalty for the crime, therefore, the penalties for shoplifiting are based on the full retail value of the item stolen. The degrees of offense in New Jersey are 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and minor first offense terms. A 2nd Degree offense which would amount to anything of full retail value over $75,000, is punishable by 5- 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $150,000. 3rd Degree is anything over $500 but up to $75,000. This offense carries a punishment of imprisonment of 3-5 years and a fine of up to $15,000. 4th Degree is a full retail value of between $200-400 and the penalty is up to a year and a half in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Of course the likely outcome may not be as harsh if this is your first offense, and the full retail value of the item or items was lower than $200, still the punishment may be up to 10 days in jail. Think about it, is this really where you want to spend Christmas? Stealing can not only ruin your reputation and embarrass you, it may cost you more than you ever imagined.