Shoplifting covers a wider variety of conduct and requires less evidence against you than you might expect. The statute defining shoplifting is NJSA 2C:20-11. In addition to taking merchandise from the store without paying you are guilty of shoplifting if you commit any of the following:

  • Conceal merchandise,
  • Change a price tag,
  • Ring up an incorrectly low price,
  • Move merchandise in the store to get a lower price - for example to a sale rack, or
  • Removing a shopping cart from a store’s premises.

To be guilty you must do those things with the purpose of depriving the merchant of the merchandise or portion of the price. However, the judge or jury can draw that conclusion from the actions themselves, and all that is required for a law officer to arrest you for shoplifting or for a merchant to cause you to be arrested for shoplifting is that he or she has probable cause to believe that you have done any of those things.

The seriousness of the offense depends upon the value of the merchandise, as the table below shows:

Degree of OffenseValue of Merchandise
Crime, Second Degree$75,000 or more
Crime, Third DegreeMore than $500 but less than $75,000
Crime, Fourth DegreeBetween $200 and $500
Disorderly Persons OffenseLess than $200

If the shoplifting is part of an organized retail theft enterprise, it is a Second Degree Crime if the amount is at least $1000, and a Third Degree Crime if the value is between $0 and $999.99.

If you or a relative has been charged with shoplifting, call us at (908) 709-0500. The initial consultation is free.