Shoplifting in New Jersey – Different From Other Misdemeanors
Shopping is very popular in New Jersey. It is so popular that residents from other states are bussed into New Jersey just to visit malls like Jersey Gardens, Short Hills Mall, Menlo Park, Woodbridge Center, Willowbrook Mall and Westfield Garden Plaza. Unfortunately, anywhere there is shopping, there is shoplifting.
Where Are Shoplifting Charges Handled In New Jersey?
In addition to traffic tickets, Municipal Courts throughout New Jersey handle a variety of disorderly and petty disorderly offenses – sometimes referred to as misdemeanors. Disorderly persons offenses include things like marijuana possession, harassment, simple assault, drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct, underage drinking and shoplifting in New Jersey.
The penalty for a standard disorderly persons first offense is a $1,000 fine (maximum) and up to six (6) months in jail. The penalty for the typical petty disorderly persons offense is a $500 fine (maximum) and up to thirty (30) days in jail. There is a loss of license for some of the drug offenses as well.
Although they have the discretion, most municipal court judges are reluctant to put an individual in jail for either a disorderly or petty disorderly persons offense conviction especially if it is a first offense. Usually, jail is reserved for repeat offenders. Most of the time a person convicted of a misdemeanor in municipal court is issued a fine and possibly probation.
How Is Shoplifting Different From Other Misdemeanors?
For shoplifting convictions, a municipal court judge’s hands are tied. The New Jersey Legislature removed the municipal court’s discretion for certain shoplifting convictions. Anyone convicted of a third or subsequent offense for shoplifting is subject to a mandatory ninety (90) days in jail. So, if you, for example, removed a shopping cart from a store’s premises and the police believed you did so to permanently deprive the store owner of it and you had two prior shoplifting convictions on your record, you are going to jail if you are convicted. The judge has no discretion.
The prospect of going to jail for a municipal court offense is not a very nice thought. Anyone charged with shoplifting in New Jersey should consult with a criminal defense attorney even if it is not the third offense. You do not want any shoplifting convictions on your record because you may one day be falsely accused of shoplifting with the possibility of facing three months in jail.
The Sloan Law Firm handles shoplifting offenses throughout New Jersey. The firm will force the store to produce video evidence of the alleged shoplifting; otherwise, a motion to dismiss the case may be filed on behalf of the client. If you or a loved one are facing shoplifting charges, it is important to discuss your case with a New Jersey Shoplifting Lawyer. The Sloan Law Firm is available for consultation about any shoplifting matter at: (908) 358-2938.
New Jersey Shoplifting Laws and Statute
a. Definitions. The following definitions apply to this section:
“Shopping cart” means those push carts of the type or types which are commonly provided by grocery stores, drug stores or other retail mercantile establishments for the use of the public in transporting commodities in stores and markets and, incidentally, from the stores to a place outside the store;
“Store or other retail mercantile establishment” means a place where merchandise is displayed, held, stored or sold or offered to the public for sale;
“Merchandise” means any goods, chattels, foodstuffs or wares of any type and description, regardless of the value thereof;
“Merchant” means any owner or operator of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, or any agent, servant, employee, lessee, consignee, officer, director, franchisee or independent contractor of such owner or proprietor;
“Person” means any individual or individuals, including an agent, servant or employee of a merchant where the facts of the situation so require;
“Conceal” means to conceal merchandise so that, although there may be some notice of its presence, it is not visible through ordinary observation;
“Full retail value” means the merchant’s stated or advertised price of the merchandise;
“Premises of a store or retail mercantile establishment” means and includes but is not limited to, the retail mercantile establishment; any common use areas in shopping centers and all parking areas set aside by a merchant or on behalf of a merchant for the parking of vehicles for the convenience of the patrons of such retail mercantile establishment;
“Under-ring” means to cause the cash register or other sale recording device to reflect less than the full retail value of the merchandise;
“Antishoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure” means any item or device which is designed, manufactured, modified, or altered to defeat any antishoplifting or inventory control device;
“Organized retail theft enterprise” means any association of two or more persons who engage in the conduct of or are associated for the purpose of effectuating the transfer or sale of shoplifted merchandise.
b. Shoplifting. Shoplifting shall consist of any one or more of the following acts:
For any person purposely to take possession of, carry away, transfer or cause to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the full retail value thereof.
For any person purposely to conceal upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the processes, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the value thereof.
For any person purposely to alter, transfer or remove any label, price tag or marking indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment and to attempt to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of all or some part of the value thereof.
For any person purposely to transfer any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail merchandise establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the retail value thereof.
For any person purposely to under-ring with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value thereof.
For any person purposely to remove a shopping cart from the premises of a store or other retail mercantile establishment without the consent of the merchant given at the time of such removal with the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such cart.
Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the second degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is $75,000 or more, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is $1,000 or more.
Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the third degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise exceeds $500 but is less than $75,000, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $1,000.
Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the fourth degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is at least $200 but does not exceed $500.
Shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $200.
The value of the merchandise involved in a violation of this section may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense where the acts or conduct constituting a violation were committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same person or several persons, or were committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise.
Additionally, notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided in N.J.S.2C:43-6 or 2C:43-8, any person convicted of a shoplifting offense shall be sentenced to perform community service as follows: for a first offense, at least ten days of community service; for a second offense, at least 15 days of community service; and for a third or subsequent offense, a maximum of 25 days of community service and any person convicted of a third or subsequent shoplifting offense shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 90 days.
d. Presumptions. Any person purposely concealing unpurchased merchandise of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store or other retail mercantile establishment, shall be prima facie presumed to have so concealed such merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof, and the finding of such merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of such person shall be prima facie evidence of purposeful concealment; and if such person conceals, or causes to be concealed, such merchandise upon the person or among the belongings of another, the finding of the same shall also be prima facie evidence of willful concealment on the part of the person so concealing such merchandise.
e. A law enforcement officer, or a special officer, or a merchant, who has probable cause for believing that a person has willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise and that he can recover the merchandise by taking the person into custody, may, for the purpose of attempting to effect recovery thereof, take the person into custody and detain him in a reasonable manner for not more than a reasonable time, and the taking into custody by a law enforcement officer or special officer or merchant shall not render such person criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever.
Any law enforcement officer may arrest without warrant any person he has probable cause for believing has committed the offense of shoplifting as defined in this section.
A merchant who causes the arrest of a person for shoplifting, as provided for in this section, shall not be criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever where the merchant has probable cause for believing that the person arrested committed the offense of shoplifting.
f. Any person who possesses or uses any anti-shoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure within any store or other retail mercantile establishment is guilty of a disorderly persons offens
Submit your review
I received a ticket for an illegal left. I left Court with no points on my license and a small fine thanks to Dan Sloan. Dan kept me informed the entire time and supported me even with this minor incident. I have recommended Dan to friends and family who have also had successful outcomes with Dan by their side.
I received a moving violation, and was very nervous to go to court and face the penalties. Dan assured me not worry- his confidence and well-rounded knowledge of the law are why I walked out of the court very happy. I highly recommend Dan Sloan and will only call him for any other issue I should face.