Question for Attorney Carbone: Can I Still be Arrested for Shoplifting?
Question: A friend of mine dared me to go to Walmart and shoplift an item. I was able to steal a $50 item and left the store. Now I’m afraid they’re going to come after me. Could the store charge me with shoplifting even though I wasn’t caught? And if I go back to the store, is it possible they will identify me?
Answer: Before we attack this question, let’s just review what a shoplifting charge is in New Jersey. Unlike other states, the severity of your punishment depends on the amount stolen. In addition, the store owner might try to recover any monetary losses that result in your theft and this means court fees.
So, if Walmart did charge you with shoplifting, chances are you’re going to pay a pretty stiff fine. Since the item was less than $200, you committed a fourth degree disorderly persons offense. The maximum penalty for this offense is $1,000 fine and six months in jail, plus any fees the store levels against you.
If this is your first offense, then you’re probably not going to jail. However, you will be serving at least ten days of community service. This is mandatory for first-time offenders. If it’s the second time, the sentence will include 15 days of community service. And if it’s your third time at bat, you will get a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail.
It is possible the store will be on the outlook for you in the future. And yes, even after the fact you can still be arrested for shoplifting. The store has up to one year to file charges against you. Although you may think you have gotten away with it, but your punishment may be coming for you soon. So you may want to consider getting a new friend.