Penalties for Shoplifting in New Jersey
New Jersey has some serious penalties for shoplifting offenses that can easily result in mandatory jail time, state prison, community service, thousands in fines and restitution as well as deportation for people who are not U.S. citizens. This page breaks down the shoplifting penalties more in depth for your reading convenience. It is always strongly recommended that if you are facing criminal charges for shoplifting in New Jersey that you hire an experienced attorney. Shoplifting cases can be harder than you think for the prosecutor to prove because they have to produce the police officer who filed the complaint, the store security guard or witness, as well as any evidence such as surveillance cameras. An experienced shoplifting lawyer may be able to challenge the state’s evidence against you in order to dismiss or downgrade the charges which can minimize the penalties.
Can I Go To Jail for Shoplifting?
The simple answer is Yes, but not always. For instance, some convictions of shoplifting can carry a presumption of state prison, where you will almost certainly be incarcerated while under other circumstances you can be sentenced to mandatory county jail. The jail and prison penalties vary drastically depending on the grade of offense and your prior record. A second degree shoplifting conviction will carry a 5 – 10 year state prison with a presumption of incarceration. While a third degree shoplifting will still carry a hefty state prison sentence of up to 3 – 5 years, there is a presumption against state prison if you are a first time offender. A conviction for a fourth degree shoplifting will carry up to 18 months in state prison and enjoy the same presumption against incarceration for first time offenders. The lowest grade offense known as a disorderly persons offense shoplifting will carry up to 6 months in county jail. However, it is important to note that a third offense for shoplifting is a mandatory jail sentence. This is because under the shoplifting statute 2C:20-11b a defendant must be sentenced to at least 90 days in county jail if they are convicted of a third shoplifting no matter what degree of offense or amount taken. For more information on mandatory jail time for shoplifting, please click the link.
How Much Does a Shoplifting Cost?
A conviction for shoplifting can quickly add up to thousands of dollars between fines, restitution and civil penalty. Fines for a shoplifting conviction can differ drastically depending on the degree of the charge. For instance, the fines for a second degree shoplifting can be up $150,000; up to $15,000 for a third degree shoplifting; up to $10,000 for a fourth degree shoplifting and up to $1,000 for a disorderly persons offense. Moreover, you will normally be responsible for paying back any restitution to the merchant or store. This means that even if you did not make it out of the store, the merchandise may still be considered “damaged” if tags were removed or it was taken out of its packaging and then you may be ordered by the judge to pay back or reimburse the store for their loss. Aside from this, merchants and stores are also allowed to collect a civil penalty against defendants charged with shoplifting in New Jersey. This is typically in an amount of $150 but can also include more money including attorney fees if the defendant fails to timely answer or pay the civil penalty. A conviction for shoplifting requires community service and will cost you money from missed or lost work since community service can last several weeks or longer. Investing in shoplifting attorney can often save you a substantial amount of money in the end by challenging the evidence against you which can result in a dismissal or minimal fines from a downgraded or amended charge.