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Are New Jersey's shoplifting laws more severe than other states?

Shoplifting laws in New Jersey factor the value of the allegedly stolen item into the punishment. Items of little value might only amount to a misdemeanor charge. More valuable items, however, may result in more serious charges. For example, if the stolen item is valued over $75,000, the charge might be classified as a second degree defense, punishable by up to ten years in prison and penalties of up to $150,000.

When allegations of a conspiracy are added to a criminal charge, however, the potential punishment facing a defendant can be exponentially more severe. In a notable example, an individual arrested for shoplifting confessed to a scheme targeting over-the-counter drugs from retail stores in New Jersey, such as Wal-Mart and CVS. 

The individual described teams of shoplifters, called “boosters,” which would steal the products and later resell them back to other retail stores and/or customers. The investigation by federal prosecutors ultimately uncovered evidence of tens of millions of dollars of stolen drugs, including products such as Zantac, Mucinex and Claritin. 

One of the co-conspirators in the scheme was recently sentenced after entering a guilty plea for the charge of conspiring to transport stolen goods interstated. The sentence includes an order to repay around $1.3 million to the victimized stores. The sentence reflects a unique aspect of New Jersey’s shoplifting laws: storeowners have a legal right to recover their financial damages, even including court fees.

If you have been accused of stealing and are facing a theft crime, it is imperative you consult with an experienced defense attorney. An attorney understands the criminal sentencing structure and can work for the best possible outcome. In the case of a first-time offender, the possibility of negotiating with prosecutors may be even better. 

Source:, “Fort Dix shoplifting arrest reveals multimillion-dollar theft ring,” Thomas Zambito, July 21, 2015

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