What are the Penalties for Shoplifting?

Posted March 12th, 2015 by .

Categories: Criminal Defense.

shoplifting-punishments-in-new-jerseyYou have managed to get away with it in the past, and you figure there is no harm in trying again.  Perhaps you just slipped that perfume bottle in your purse because the checkout line was too long.  The fact remains that there are penalties for shoplifting.  In fact, depending on the price tag of the item you lifted, you can face a criminal record.

In some cases, shoplifting is considered a minor offense and receives little media attention.  Surprisingly, the news picked up a story of a Jersey City man, arrested for stealing deodorant and candy from a Bayonne Walmart.  The items totaled just $66.79.  Ironically, the accused was not apprehended at the Bayonne store.  The shoplifted merchandise was discovered when the man was caught trying to steal from Lowes in Bayonne.  There were other charges filed in conjunction with the arrest.


Shoplifting charges are defined in NJSA 2C:20-11.  Although the term may seem obvious, here is a breakdown of the definition in plain language:

  • Taking something out of a store without paying for it
  • Concealing an item with the intention of depriving the merchant of payment
  • Altering, transferring or removing any label, price tag or marking an item with the intent of distorting its value (yes, changing price tags on an item is shoplifting)
  • Moving an item from one container to another to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the retail value
  • Purposefully manipulating the cashier to under-ring merchandise
  • Removing a shopping cart from a store’s premises without their permission


The penalties for shoplifting are based on the number of offenses and the dollar amount of the merchandise.  Ten days of community service is mandated for first time offenders.  In addition, be aware of the following:

  • If the retail value is under $200, the charge is a disorderly persons offense. The maximum penalty is $1,000 fine and six months in jail
  • If the retail value is over $200, but less than $500, the charge can be considered a fourth degree offense.
  • If the retail value is over $500, but less than $75,000, the offense becomes a third degree
  • Shoplifting charges of items more than $75,000 are extremely serious and charged as second degree crimes

Community Service/Mandatory Jail

  • Ten days of community service is mandated for first time offenders
  • Fifteen days of community service is required for second time offenders
  • Minimum 90 days of jail time for third or subsequent offenses

We understand that times are bad and that some are reduced to shoplifting even food as a means of survival.  If you are facing charges for shoplifting, you need competent legal representationContact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone for a free consultation.

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