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Shoplifting Attorney in Jersey City, New Jersey

Shoplifting is one of the most common charges that we handle on a regular basis throughout New Jersey. Defendants range from teenagers, young mothers, repeat offenders, to professionals who make “six-figures” a year. New Jersey has made the shoplifting laws very seriously and strict as a way to combat the prevalence of the crime. In fact, shoplifting is punishable by mandatory incarceration under certain circumstances. Moreover, the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) has issued guidelines to judges and prosecutors to not allow plea bargaining for defendants charged with shoplifting. This can obviously make defending a shoplifting case very hard and complicated, especially for the inexperienced. At the Law Offices of William A. Proetta, we have successfully represented clients against thousands of criminal and municipal court charges including numerous shoplifting crimes and related charges including possession of burglary tools. We frequently represent clients charged with shoplifting in Jersey City, Kearny, Secaucus, Bayonne, North Bergen, Millburn and Clifton. If you would like to speak with an experienced shoplifting criminal attorney then contact our Jersey City office at (201) 793-8018.

New Jersey Shoplifting Offenses under NJSA 2C:20-11

The New Jersey statute for shoplifting is listed below, in pertinent part, for your reading convenience.

§ 2C:20-11. Shoplifting b. Shoplifting shall consist of any one or more of the following acts: (1) For any person purposely to take possession of, carry away, transfer or cause to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the full retail value thereof. (2) For any person purposely to conceal upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the processes, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the value thereof. (3) For any person purposely to alter, transfer or remove any label, price tag or marking indicia of value or any other markings which aid in determining value affixed to any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment and to attempt to purchase such merchandise personally or in consort with another at less than the full retail value with the intention of depriving the merchant of all or some part of the value thereof.

What are the Penalties for Shoplifting in NJ?

Anyone who is proven to have shoplifted in New Jersey can face jail time. Each level of shoplifting crime has a possible prison term attached to it depending on the degree of the charge. The degree of the charges are delineated by the value of the amount taken as noted below:

Second Degree Shoplifting Over $75,000 worth of merchandise 5  – 10 years in state prison; incarceration presumed
Third Degree Shoplifting $500 – $75,000 worth of merchandise 3 – 5 years in state prison
Fourth Degree Shoplifting $200 – $500 worth of merchandise Up to 18 months in state prison
Disorderly Persons Offense Shoplifting Under $200 of worth merchandise Up to 6 months in county jail


Shoplifting offenses also carry mandatory community service requirements. The amount of community service ordered in a specific case depends on the number of convictions that a person has previously had for shoplifting. If it is your first offense, community service for shoplifting must be a minimum of 10 days. If it is your second shoplifting offense, you will be ordered to do at least 15 days. A maximum of 25 days of community service is required for third, fourth, and subsequent shoplifting convictions. In addition to any jail time and community service, the court will require you to pay certain fines. Specifically, you must pay a $75 Safe Neighborhood fee, $50 Victims of Crime Compensation Assessment, and a $30 Law Enforcement Training and Equipment Fund penalty. You can also be forced to pay restitution for the unrecovered items, the cost of DNA testing, and a $150 civil penalty (not imposed by the criminal court) as well as court costs and fees.

What are the Immigration Consequences of Shoplifting in New Jersey?

Shoplifting is considered a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude “CIMT,” which means a conviction can have serious adverse affects on your immigration status if you are not a U.S. Citizen. For example, these penalties can include deportation, denial for green card or visa renewal, or not being able to re-enter the country if you leave. These repercussions can apply to any immigrant including green card holders, workers and family on visa, and illegal residents.

Secaucus NJ Shoplifting Defense Attorney

The statute cited above clearly describes shoplifting as theft of merchandise from a retail store or the intent steal by concealing merchandise. However, we commonly handle cases where a shoplifting charge can quickly escalate to a second degree Robbery when a security guard attempts to apprehend a suspect and a physical struggle ensues. The added element of force turns the shoplifting into a robbery (theft + force). Every case has different facts and circumstances but, generally speaking, shoplifting case can very complicated and difficult to defend. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can work with the prosecution and challenge the state’s proofs, such as the actual value of merchandise, co-defendant implication, and actual intent. At Proetta & Oliver we represent clients against shoplifting charges through New Jersey including Hoboken, Newark, Union City, Bloomfield, and West New York. Our lawyers are typically able to negotiate a downgrade, dismissal, or your admittance into a diversion program such as Pre-Trial Intervention. If you or a family member has been charged with the crime of shoplifting then please contact our Jersey City office for a free consultation at (201) 793-8018 or by e-mail.