Can I Go to Jail for Shoplifting?
Sept. 6, 2022
In New Jersey, shoplifting – deliberately taking an item from a store without paying the exact retail value – is a serious offense that attracts harsh penalties. If convicted, a defendant could face lengthy jail time, huge fines, a criminal record, and other devastating social ramifications. A familiar New Jersey criminal defense attorney can educate you about the results of a shoplifting charge and help strategize your best defenses to avoid going to jail.
Attorney William Quirk has the resources necessary to handle criminal cases and defend individuals wrongfully charged with shoplifting. In addition, he can examine your case and attempt to uphold your rights in pursuit of the best available outcome for your individual situation. William J. Quirk, Esq., LLC is proud to serve clients across Hackensack, Clifton, Paterson, New Jersey, and the West New York areas.
Shoplifting Charges under New Jersey Law
According to New Jersey law – New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2C:20-11 – shoplifting constitutes any of the acts below:
Purposely hiding any item offered or displayed for sale by a retail establishment with an intent to deprive the merchant of the benefit, processes, or use of the item.
Purposely taking possession, carrying away, or transferring any item offered or displayed for sale by any retail store with an intent to deprive the merchant of the benefit, possession, or use of the item.
Purposely removing, altering, or transferring the price tag or label of an item offered for sale by a retail store in an attempt to buy the item for less than the full retail value.
Purposely transferring any merchandise displayed, held, or offered for sale by any store from its container to another container with the intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the item's retail value.
Purposely removing a shopping cart from a store's premises without the merchant's consent with an intent to permanently deprive the store owner of the benefit or use of the cart.
Purposely under-ring the value of an item displayed or offered for sale by any store with an intent to deprive the store owner of the actual retail value of the item.
Examples of Shoplifting
Here are some common examples of retail theft or shoplifting in the state of New Jersey:
Writing a different price
Altering a price tag
Removing the security tag or theft prevention device on the item
Hiding merchandise in your backpack while in the store.
Removing merchandise from its packaging and concealing it with other items.
Switching price tags with those of lower-priced items
A practiced New Jersey shoplifting defense lawyer can analyze and investigate every aspect of your case thoroughly and help you understand the nature and severity of your charges.
Classification of Charges
Shoplifting offenses in New Jersey may be categorized according to the retail value of the shoplifted item. These include:
Disorderly Persons: This involves shoplifting an item with a value of less than $200. It is the lowest level of shoplifting under New Jersey laws.
Fourth Degree Shoplifting: This involves shoplifting an item with a retail value of between $200 and $500.
Third Degree Shoplifting: This involves shoplifting an item worth between $500 and $75,000.
Second Degree Shoplifting: This involves shoplifting an item with a retail value of $75,000 or more.
If you are arrested and charged with shoplifting, the severity of your punishment will depend on the value of the merchandise shoplifted and other surrounding circumstances.
Possible Penalties for Shoplifting
The possible penalties and consequences of a shoplifting conviction in New Jersey include:
Prison sentences (ranging from months, years, or decades)
Restitution to the victim of shoplifting (store owners)
Other consequences include:
A criminal record/history
Increased difficulty in securing government assistance
Loss of voting rights
Increased difficulty in getting housing or job
Ineligibility for certain financial loans
Possible deportation from the United States
Possible loss of the ability to become a citizen of the United States
Increased difficulty in traveling to other countries
A reliable criminal defense attorney can identify potential defenses to your shoplifting allegations and strategize the most effective way to fight your charges and keep your record clean.
Here are some possible legal defenses to a shoplifting allegation:
Falsely accused of shoplifting
No intent to shoplift the merchandise
Accidentally took the item out of the retail store
Not enough evidence for a conviction
Truth or ambiguity of the statement
Acted with the consent of the merchant
However, every shoplifting case is unique. Therefore, when facing shoplifting charges, you should turn to a proficient criminal defense lawyer to help build your defense and help you avoid the far-reaching implications of a criminal conviction.
Turn to Reliable Representation
Defending your shoplifting accusation without experienced guidance and representation could increase your likelihood of getting convicted. Attorney William Quirk enjoys providing comprehensive legal advice and aggressive representation to clients in criminal cases.
As your legal counsel, he can assess all of the factors of your case and help prepare the best defenses to achieve the most favorable outcome. Also, Attorney William Quirk has the resources to dispute all the allegations against you with substantial facts and evidence and make sure you get a fair hearing.
Contact William J. Quirk, Esq., LLC today to schedule an easy case assessment with a strategic theft crimes defense lawyer. Attorney William Quirk can help you navigate the New Jersey criminal defense system and represent you in the legal process. The firm is proud to serve clients across Hackensack, Clifton, Paterson, New Jersey, and the West New York areas.