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What is the definition of shoplifting?

Most people head out the store when they need something or want something. Sometimes, the person who needs something might not have the money to pay for the items he or she needs. Think about a parent who needs baby formula or diapers but can't afford those items. Those people might become so desperate to meet their needs that they take items from the store without paying. That is actually a criminal act known as shoplifting.

What is shoplifting?

Shoplifting involves taking something from a business without paying for it or without paying the amount the business was selling the item for. That means that changing the price on a price tag is just as serious as walking out of the store without paying for it at all. In some cases, even concealing the merchandise is a criminal act because concealing the item is considered evidence that you intended to take it without paying for it.

What factors are considered when a person faces a shoplifting charge?

Your prior criminal history can be considered when you are charged with shoplifting. Specifically, the prosecution might look for prior theft or shoplifting convictions when trying to determine how to handle your case. The monetary value of the items taken also play a part in what type of shoplifting charge you are facing.

At a minimum, you can face up to 10 days in jail, fines, restitution and a $150 shoplifting surcharge if you are convicted of shoplifting in New Jersey. Higher value shoplifting sprees can mean harsher sentences. Your defense strategy is the only way you can attempt to reduce the severity of the penalties you will face.

Source: FindLaw, "Shoplifting," accessed June 14, 2016

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