What to Know About Shoplifting

Contact us for a free consultation and our attorneys will assist you immediately

schedule consultation

Frequently Asked Questions About Shoplifting

For many people, this will be their first and only time they will ever be charged with a shoplifting offense or a criminal matter so we are often approached by people who have many questions about the process and what to expect. This section is designed to help answer a lot of the frequently asked questions we often receive from clients who have been charged or arrested for shoplifting in New Jersey. (1) First and foremost, it is important to understand what actually qualifies as shoplifting; (2) Then, if your actions did amount to shoplifting, you want to figure just how serious your shoplifting is based on the facts; (3) lastly, once you figure out the grade or level of seriousness of the charge, you want to research the penalties for shoplifting in New Jersey. It is important to note, that there can be additional consequences for non-citizens convicted of shoplifting. Based on the answers to these questions you can decide whether or not you need a shoplifting lawyer to defend your case, which we investigate a little bit more in depth below.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Shoplifting Charge?

Contrary to what most people probably think, the crime of shoplifting is anything but straightforward. It is a rather complex offense that in actuality encompasses a variety of different types of conduct outside of just “stealing”. Furthermore, they often involve complex evidentiary issues as well, one of the main issues is when a confession is made to a loss prevention officer.  That is why it is strongly recommend that if you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with the crime of shoplifting in New Jersey, in counties like Monmouth, Somerset, Morris, Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Ocean, Middlesex, Hudson or Mercer County that you speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. This is a very serious criminal offense, one that if not handled properly could land a Defendant behind bars for up to a decade. If you would like to speak to one of the shoplifting defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver about your options then please contact us at (732) 856-9959. We can go over the specific facts of your case and we will give you our honest feedback on how we think we can be of assistance. Please do not let a simple misunderstanding or lapse in judgement jeopardize your future.

What Court Do I Appear in for a Shoplifting Charge?

All shoplifting charges in New Jersey will be governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11.  Based on the statute, a Defendant could be charged with either a second, third or fourth degree felony or a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) shoplifting charge in New Jersey. The degree of the shoplifting charge will be dictated solely by the dollar amount of the merchandise in question. The degree of the shoplifting charge will also dictate what court a Defendant will be required to appear in to defend their charges. All disorderly persons offenses must be litigated in the local municipal court in the municipality where the incident occurred. For example, if the Defendant is alleged to have shoplifted less than $200 worth of merchandise from Best Buy in Edison, New Jersey then they must appear in the Edison Municipal Court to answer for those charges. Conversely, all felony level shoplifting charges, whether it be a second, third or fourth degree felony must be heard in the County courthouse of the county in which the incident occurred. So, for example if the Defendant has been accused of shoplifting more than $200 at the Best Buy in Edison, New Jersey, then the Defendant must appear in the Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick to defend those charges. If you would like to speak to one of our New Jersey shoplifting defense attorneys about where you must appear in court, then please contact us at (732) 856-9959.

Are Shoplifting Charges a Felony in NJ?

As touched upon above, a Defendant could be charged with either a second, third or fourth degree felony offense or a disorderly persons offense. The value of the merchandise in question will dictate what degree of shoplifting a Defendant is charged with. Here is a chart that breaks down not only the different degrees but the potential penalties if convicted however for more in-depth information you should visit our practice series on shoplifting penalties in New Jersey.


Value of the Merchandise Penalties

Second Degree Felony

Greater than $75,000

5 to 10 Years in Prison

$150,000 Fine

Third Degree Felony

Greater than $500 but less than $75,000

3 to 5  Years in Prison

$15,000 Fine

Fourth Degree Felony

Greater than $200 but less than $500

18 Months in Prison

$10,000 Fine

Disorderly Persons Offense


Less than $200

6 Months in Jail

$1,000 Fine