NJ 2C:20-11 Shoplifting.

Defending NJ 2C:20-11  Shoplifting.

After you read the following NJ Criminal Statute (Shoplifting) you may decide that you need the help of a lawyer, or need a legal interpretation of how this statute applies to your case.  The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 20 years of experience, including a former municipal prosecutor.  Call the number above for a free 24×7 phone consultation.

Summary of a Shoplifting Charge in New Jersey

If you have been charged with shoplifting, it is highly recommended that you consult with a criminal defense lawyer. At Villani & DeLuca, we have experienced attorneys who understand how to protect your rights and your future.  Shoplifting, in the state of New Jersey, consists of various types and consequences that can be confusing and may lead to a permanent criminal record. Shoplifting can be anything from a disorderly persons offense to a crime of the second, third or fourth degree. The firm of Villani & DeLuca may help you avoid these potentially damaging convictions with their knowledge and experience, while giving you peace of mind. Call today at 732-965-3350 and speak to a criminal defense lawyer who understands your rights.

There are five general types of shoplifting charges under New Jersey law.  For example, the most classic type of shoplifting occurs when a person purposely takes any merchandise that is offered for sale by a merchant.  It is also shoplifting if someone conceals merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of payment, or if they alter, transfer or remove labels or price tags in an attempt to deprive the merchant of the full value of the item.  Someone can be found guilty of shoplifting additionally if they transfer merchandise from its original container to any other container in order to deceive the merchant of the full merchandise value or if they under-charge the value of the merchandise.

What the State Needs to Prove for a Shoplifting Conviction

The State has to prove elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction for shoplifting in New Jersey.  There are three elements that must be proven for a shoplifting conviction.  They include proving that: the merchandise was purposely concealed, carried away, or taken possession of by defendant; the establishment where the item was taken was a commercial retail store or other mercantile establishment; and the defendant intentionally deprived the merchant of the benefit of the merchandise without paying the merchant the full retail value.

Defending a Shoplifting Charge

There are several defenses that can be taken when charged with shoplifting. Whether you unintentionally walked out of the store with unpaid merchandise, the store does not provide proof of your alleged actions, or a necessary witness fails to appear in court, we are here to provide you with professional representation. Call Villani & DeLuca at 732-965-3350, 24 hours a days, 7 days a week, to have your free consultation about your charge with one of our defense attorneys.

What is at Risk if Found Guilty of Shoplifting?

Shoplifting in New Jersey can be either a disorderly persons offense or an indictable criminal offense. That is where Villani & DeLuca can help you. If the State has proven all elements of shoplifting beyond a reasonable doubt, the full retail value of merchandise involved is an important component. If the amount of the alleged theft is $200 or less, the case will be handled in municipal court and considered a disorderly persons offense.

If the amount of the alleged theft is between $200 and $500, it is a fourth degree indictable criminal offense in New Jersey which is punishable by up to eighteen months in prison. If the amount of the alleged theft is between $500 and $75,000, this is a third degree shoplifting offense in New Jersey punishable by up to five years in prison. Finally, if the amount of the theft is greater than $75,000, this is a second degree shoplifting offense in New Jersey punishable by up to ten years in prison.  A conviction for shoplifting at any degree will also come with other fines and surcharges. Call a lawyer at Villani & DeLuca today to discuss your charge and find out what may be at risk for you.

NJ Statute: 2C:20-11  Shoplifting.

a.Definitions.  The following definitions apply to this section:

(1)”Shopping cart”  means those push carts of the type or types which are commonly provided by grocery stores, drug stores or other retail mercantile establishments for the use of the public in transporting commodities in stores  and markets and, incidentally, from the stores to a place outside the store;

(2)”Store or other retail mercantile establishment”  means a place where merchandise is displayed, held, stored or sold or offered to the public for sale;

(3)”Merchandise”  means any goods, chattels, foodstuffs or wares of any type and description, regardless of the value thereof;

(4)”Merchant” means any owner or operator of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, or any agent, servant, employee, lessee, consignee, officer, director, franchisee or independent contractor of such owner or proprietor;

(5)”Person” means any individual or individuals, including an agent, servant or employee of a merchant where the facts of the situation so require;

(6)”Conceal” means to conceal merchandise so that, although there may be some notice of its presence, it is not visible through ordinary observation;

(7)”Full retail value” means the merchant’s stated or advertised price of the merchandise;

(8)”Premises of a store or retail mercantile establishment” means and includes but is not limited to, the retail mercantile establishment; any common use areas in shopping centers and all parking areas set aside by a merchant or on behalf of a merchant for the parking of vehicles for the convenience of the patrons of such retail mercantile establishment;

(9)”Under-ring” means to cause the cash register or other sale recording device to reflect less than the full retail value of the merchandise;

(10) “Antishoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure” means any item or device which is designed, manufactured, modified, or altered to defeat any antishoplifting or inventory control device;

(11) “Organized retail theft enterprise” means any association of two or more persons who engage in the conduct of or are associated for the purpose of effectuating the transfer or sale of shoplifted merchandise.

b.Shoplifting.  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.

(4)For any person purposely to transfer any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail merchandise establishment from the container in or on which the same shall be displayed to any other container with intent to deprive the merchant of all or some part of the retail value thereof.

(5)For any person purposely to under-ring with the intention of depriving the merchant of the full retail value thereof.

(6)For any person purposely to remove a shopping cart from the premises of a store or other retail mercantile establishment without the consent of the  merchant given at the time of such removal with the intention of permanently depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such cart.

c.Gradation.  (1) Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the second degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is  $75,000 or more, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is $1,000 or more.

(2)Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the third degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise exceeds $500 but is less than  $75,000, or the offense is committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise and the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $1,000.

(3)Shoplifting constitutes a crime of the fourth degree under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is at least $200 but does not exceed $500.

(4)Shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense under subsection b. of this section if the full retail value of the merchandise is less than $200.

The value of the merchandise involved in a violation of this section may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense where the acts or conduct constituting a violation were committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same person or several persons, or were committed in furtherance of or in conjunction with an organized retail theft enterprise.

Additionally, notwithstanding the term of imprisonment provided in N.J.S.2C:43-6 or 2C:43-8, any person convicted of a shoplifting offense shall be sentenced to perform community service as follows:  for a first offense, at least ten days of community service;  for a second offense, at least 15 days of community service;  and for a third or subsequent offense, a maximum of 25 days of community service and any person convicted of a third or subsequent shoplifting offense shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 90 days.

d.Presumptions.  Any person purposely concealing unpurchased merchandise of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store or other retail mercantile establishment, shall be prima facie presumed to have so concealed such merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof, and the finding of such merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of such person shall be prima facie evidence of purposeful concealment; and if such person conceals, or causes to be concealed, such merchandise upon the person or among the belongings of another, the finding of the same shall also be prima facie evidence of willful concealment on the part of the person so concealing such merchandise.

e.A law enforcement officer, or a special officer, or a merchant, who has probable cause for believing that a person has willfully concealed unpurchased merchandise and that he can recover the merchandise by taking the person into custody, may, for the purpose of attempting to effect recovery thereof, take the person into custody and detain him in a reasonable manner for not more than a reasonable time, and the taking into custody by a law enforcement officer or special officer or merchant shall not render such person criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever.

Any law enforcement officer may arrest without warrant any person he has probable cause for believing has committed the offense of shoplifting as defined in this section.

A merchant who causes the arrest of a person for shoplifting, as provided for in this section, shall not be criminally or civilly liable in any manner or to any extent whatsoever where the merchant has probable cause for believing that the person arrested committed the offense of shoplifting.

f.Any person who possesses or uses any antishoplifting or inventory control device countermeasure within any store or other retail mercantile establishment is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

Amended 1979, c.178, s.35B; 1997, c.319; 2000, c.16, s.1; 2006, c.56, s.1.

AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:20-11, Violation 2C:20-11, Offense 2C:20-11

Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website lis.njleg.state.nj.us as of August 2012.

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