Shoplifting Charges in New Jersey

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in New Jersey. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record

Shoplifting is a serious crime with stringent penalties in New Jersey. Shoplifters face criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines, as well as civil lawsuits by merchants to recover damages.

New Jersey Shoplifting Penalties

Shoplifting in New Jersey is committed when a person takes or conceals merchandise, alters or removes price tags, transfers merchandise to another container, causes merchandise to “under-ring,” or removes a shopping cart from a store, with the intention of depriving the merchant. A person caught concealing merchandise can be presumed to have intended to take it without paying for it.

Criminal penalties for shoplifting, such as jail time and fines, increase with the value of the merchandise. Shoplifters are also civilly liable to victimized merchants.

New Jersey Shoplifting Criminal Penalties




Shoplifting merchandise with a total combined value less than $200

Disorderly persons shoplifting

Up to six months of jail time and/or a fine up to $1,000

Shoplifting merchandise with a total combined value of $200-$500

Crime of the fourth degree

Up to 18 months of jail time and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00

Shoplifting merchandise with a total combined value of $500-$75,0000

Crime of the third degree

Between 3-5 years of jail time and/or a fine up to $15,000

Shoplifting merchandise with a total combined value of $75,000 or greater

Crime of the second degree

Between 5-10 years of jail time and/or a fine up to $150,000

Civil Liability

Victimized merchants can sue adult shoplifters or the custodial guardians or parents of minor shoplifters in civil court for damages. Merchants are entitled to the value of the merchandise if not recovered in its original condition (up to $500), plus damages incurred in apprehending the shoplifter, and a penalty up to $150.

Pretrial Intervention Programs and Plea Bargaining

Pretrial intervention or diversion programs may be available to those accused of first-time and low-level crimes in New Jersey. If an accused completes the program requirements, such as counseling, community service, and restitution, the criminal charges will be dropped.

If pretrial intervention programs are not available, the accused may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, at the prosecutor’s discretion. Plea bargains typically involve the prosecutor reducing the criminal charges or sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea from the accused.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you are accused of shoplifting in New Jersey, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your criminal attorney can assist you in exploring all of your opportunities, including pursing diversion programs, raising defenses, or negotiating plea bargains, in order to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge.

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