In the State of New Jersey, shoplifting is a criminal offense that can result in the imposition of significant fines and a term of incarceration (jail). The severity of a shoplifting charge depends on the value of property or items allegedly shoplifted or misappropriated by a defendant. For example, if the value of the property exceeds $200.00 then the shoplifting case will be heard in Superior Court because it can be a felony of the 4th degree or higher. However, if the value of the property alleged to have been shoplifted is less then $200.00 then that matter will be heard by a Municipal Court Judge at the Municipal Court level. It should be noted, that the offense of shoplifting is still considered a criminal offense even though it is prosecuted at the Municipal Court level.
N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 provides that Shoplifting consists of taking possession of merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant or shopkeeper of its benefit. In fact, a person can be found guilty of shoplifting by having an “intention” of depriving a shopkeeper of the benefit or use of a particular product/merchandise or piece of property. If a person alters a particular piece of merchandise in any manner, that in itself is considered shoplifting. A person does not have to leave the shopkeeper’s premises in order to be found guilty of the crime of shoplifting. In other words, the Statute is very broad and encompasses a host of events that do not necessarily fit the common laymen’s definition of shoplifting. As such, a person defending a shoplifting charge must review the whole Statue in its entirety prior to making any sort of representations of defense theories of not guilty.
If you just received a Shoplifting charge in the State of New Jersey and have questions, call us now to speak to Attorney Peter A. Michael about your case!