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Does a first time shoplifting charge go on your record?

If you are caught in the act of theft or shoplifting, a store owner or security may simply ban you from their store. However, if you are arrested and convicted, the charge will most likely go on your criminal record. To avoid the serious negative consequence this can have on your life, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after being processed and charged. 


What Constitutes as Shoplifting in New Jersey?

It is critical to remember that “shoplifting” is not limited to scenarios where defendants actually remove items from a store without paying. In New Jersey, shoplifting occurs when someone:

  • Steals merchandise from a store without paying for it.
  • Conceals merchandise in a store with the intention of taking it without paying.
  • Alters, changes, or removes a price tag or label from a piece of merchandise and attempts to purchase it for less than the full price.
  • Transfers merchandise from its original container into a new one to avoid paying the full price.
  • Under-rings merchandise to avoid paying the full price.
  • Takes a shopping cart from the premises of a retail store.


How Is Shoplifting Punished in New Jersey?

In the state of New Jersey, most theft or crimes are classified as either disorderly persons offenses or indictable crimes, the respective equivalents of misdemeanors and felonies in other states. The severity of a shoplifting offense varies depending on the value of the stolen merchandise. Penalties normally break down as follows:

  • Shoplifting less than $200 in merchandise is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and 6 months in jail.
  • Shoplifting $200-500 in merchandise is a fourth-degree indictable crime punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and 18 months in jail.
  • Shoplifting $500-$75,000 in merchandise is a third-degree indictable crime punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and 3-5 years in jail.
  • Shoplifting more than $75,000 in merchandise is a second-degree indictable crime punishable by up to $150,000 in fines and 5-10 years in jail.

In addition to these punishments, anyone convicted of shoplifting in New Jersey will be ordered to perform community service.


How Long Can a Shoplifting Charge Stay on My Record?

If a shoplifting charge is put on your criminal record, it usually stays there permanently until you take steps to remove it. Among other things, while a shoplifting conviction stays on your record, you could have trouble with things like finding employment, applying for loans, purchasing firearms, and even exercising your right to vote. Contact our law offices to discuss your eligibility for petitioning to have a conviction removed from your record.

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