Charged with Shoplifting from Target in New Jersey?

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Shoplifting from Target in New Jersey

Facade of a Target store

Shoplifting laws in New Jersey are rather strict and can impose severe consequences, depending on how much the accused is reported to have stolen. Someone does not even need to leave the store to be accused of shoplifting; concealing items or removing or altering tags is enough, according to New Jersey law. 

If you’re accused of shoplifting, a strong defense requires an experienced criminal defense lawyer like those at Rosenblum Law. We can develop a strategy and negotiate with prosecutors for a lesser charge and penalties. 

This article will help those accused of shoplifting from Target in New Jersey understand their rights and the potential consequences. 

Understanding Shoplifting Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey defines shoplifting in Section 2C:20-11 of the Code of Criminal Justice. The law makes it illegal to take possession of or take away merchandise from a store without paying. Shoplifting can also consist of:

  • Concealing merchandise with the intent to deprive the store of payment
  • Altering, removing, or changing any price tag
  • Transferring merchandise from its container to another container with the intent of depriving the store of payment
  • Removing a shopping cart from the premises without the store’s permission

The legal requirements for proving shoplifting typically involve finding merchandise concealed on a person or transferred into a container like a bag. The observations of loss prevention officers and/or video footage might also be used.

Shoplifting from Target

Target takes shoplifting more seriously than some other retailers and places cameras at entrances, exits, self-checkout machines, and in other places throughout its stores. Target also employs loss prevention officers or associates who watch for shoplifting. 

In addition, Target has its own forensic teams to identify and prosecute shoplifters. They are known for letting people continue to shoplift until they have stolen enough for a felony charge. In other words, if someone is accused of shoplifting from Target, they can be fairly certain that there is evidence to prove it.

If someone is caught shoplifting at Target, or a loss prevention officer suspects they are shoplifting, the officer has the legal right to detain the suspect, take them to the back of the store, and search their bags. Afterward the officer might issue a warning if the stolen items were inexpensive, or they might call the police and press charges. 

The potential penalties and consequences of shoplifting in New Jersey are steep and based on the dollar value of the items stolen. 

  • Disorderly persons offense: Charged when the merchandise is worth less than $200, this crime comes with potential penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 
  • Fourth-degree offense: Charged when the merchandise is worth more than $200 but less than $500, this crime comes with potential penalties of up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-degree offense: Charged when the merchandise is worth more than $500 but less than $75,000, this crime comes with potential penalties of up to three to five years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Second-degree offense: Charged when merchandise is worth more than $75,000, this crime comes with potential penalties of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. 

In addition, the law provides that all those convicted of shoplifting must perform some community service. If convicted of shoplifting from Target or anywhere else in New Jersey, someone can expect the crime to stay on their criminal record, which can affect future opportunities. 

In addition, Target can and does ban shoplifters from its stores. The company is also reportedly using artificial intelligence-powered cameras to identify customers who repeatedly fail to scan items at self-checkout machines after being prompted.

Factors Considered in Prosecuting Shoplifting from Target

The main thing that a prosecutor must prove when it comes to shoplifting is criminal intent to steal. Concealing merchandise is considered evidence of this intent. 

Prosecutors often rely on Target’s CCTV footage to pinpoint the moment when the item was being concealed, the tag was being removed, or the package was being opened. The testimony of Target loss prevention officers can also come into play if they caught someone leaving the store without paying. 

There are some potential defenses against the charge of shoplifting, depending on the facts of the case. 

  • Lack of criminal intent to shoplift. Perhaps something was left in the cart by mistake, or the accused otherwise intended to pay for the item but forgot. This is a common defense against the charge of shoplifting.
  • Mistaken identity. Perhaps another shopper looks similar to the accused, and the accused did not actually take anything.
  • Mental state. Mental illness or other diminished mental capacity could have made it impossible to have true criminal intent.
  • Procedural challenges. If the loss prevention officer and/or law enforcement did not follow correct procedures, evidence can be thrown out along with the charges. 

In addition, some first-time offenders may be eligible for New Jersey’s Pre-Trial Intervention Program. This program allows for a period of probation, after which the charges are dismissed. This keeps the charge of shoplifting off of the criminal record. 

How an Attorney Can Assist Someone Accused of Shoplifting from Target in New Jersey

An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist someone accused of shoplifting from Target in New Jersey in a number of ways. They will start with an initial consultation and case evaluation, offering advice on potential consequences and legal options. The attorney will then gather evidence, surveillance footage, and witness testimony to back up a defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances. The attorney can also negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or penalties, and advocate for the accused in court proceedings. 

It is important to get legal representation if accused of shoplifting. In addition to presenting a better defense, only an attorney can negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or penalties, or apply for the PreTrial Intervention Program. 


Can I lose my right to shop at Target if convicted of shoplifting?

Yes, you can lose your right to shop at Target if convicted of shoplifting from their stores. Target has cameras throughout its stores to detect when convicted shoplifters enter the store. 

How can I prove that I did not intend to shoplift at Target?

You can prove that you did not intend to shoplift at Target if you show you intended to pay for the item. For example, perhaps the item was left in the bottom of your cart and was not concealed. This could show that you did not have intent to steal, or at least introduce reasonable doubt as to that element of the crime.

Can I get caught stealing after I leave Target?

Yes, you can get caught stealing after you leave Target. Target has their own forensic teams to prosecute shoplifters. If they are able to identify you and have footage of you leaving the store with merchandise, they can use that evidence to build a case against you. They may not press charges until enough has been shoplifted for a felony charge.

Will I go to jail for shoplifting if it is my first offense?

With good legal representation, you will likely not go to jail for shoplifting if it is your first offense and it is a disorderly persons charge, meaning that the value of stolen merchandise is under $200 in value. First time offenders also qualify for the Conditional Dismissal or Pre-Trial Intervention Program, which results in probation and the charges being dismissed at the end of the program.

Where will I go to court if I am accused of shoplifting?

For merchandise less than $200 in value, you will go to court in municipal court. For merchandise of higher values, the case is heard in the New Jersey Superior Court for the county in which you shoplifted.

What are the juvenile shoplifting penalties in New Jersey?

Juvenile shoplifting penalties are slightly different from penalties for adults. Juveniles who shoplift a value up to $200 can be sent to a detention center for six months. Those who steal $200-500 worth of merchandise can spend up to one year in a detention center. If the merchandise costs between $500 and $75,000, they can spend up to two years in a detention center. For thefts over $75,000, they can receive a sentence of three years. First-time juvenile offenders are rarely sentenced to a detention center and may only have to pay restitution and perform community service.

Are there any exceptions for accidental shoplifting?

Yes. To prove shoplifting charges, the prosecution must prove that you actually intended to steal. Accidental shoplifting, such as leaving an item in a cart without paying for it, does not involve such intent.

Can the charge be expunged from my record?

Yes, in some cases. An attorney can best describe the process for having the crime expunged from your record. If you participate in the PreTrial Intervention Program, the charges are expunged from your record automatically at the end of the probationary period.

Should I accept a plea deal or fight the charge in court?

Whether or not you should accept a plea deal or fight the charge in court depends on the circumstances of the case. If the prosecution has significant evidence against you, a plea deal might be the best option. It is best to consult with an attorney before taking any plea deal.

Call a Rosenblum Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Shoplifting charges in New Jersey are a serious matter for which you should seek legal representation, given the potential fines and jail time. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid jail time if it is your first offense and determine a suitable defense in other cases. Rosenblum Law criminal defense attorneys can help someone accused of shoplifting mount the best possible defense and negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges and penalties. We have extensive experience defending against shoplifting charges, and we can help you too. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

List of Target Stores in NJ

  • 570 Route 70; Brick, NJ 08723-4014
  • 200 Promenade Blvd; Bridgewater, NJ 08807-3456
  • 2703 Route 541; Burlington, NJ 08016-4175
  • 2137 Route 38; Cherry Hill, NJ 08002-2045
  • 45 Central Ave; Clark, NJ 07066-1421
  • 30 Kingsland Rd; Clifton, NJ 07014-1904
  • 29 Vervalen St; Closter, NJ 07624-2620
  • 4004 Rte 130 N; Delran, NJ 08075-2414
  • 1900 Deptford Center Rd; Deptford, NJ 08096-5624
  • 130 State Route 10; East Hanover, NJ 07936-2103
  • 70 Princeton Hightstown Rd; East Windsor, NJ 08520-1933
  • 56 State Route 36; Eatontown, NJ 07724-2508
  • 543 River Rd; Edgewater, NJ 07020-1146
  • 100 Parsonage Rd; Edison, NJ 08837-2424
  • 632 Route 46 E; Fairfield, NJ 07004-1581
  • 630 Main St; Hackensack, NJ 07601-5913
  • 68 US Highway 46 W; Hackettstown, NJ 07840-4978
  • 650 W Cuthbert Blvd; Haddon Township, NJ 08108-3642
  • 4955 US Highway 9; Howell, NJ 07731-3750
  • 100 14th St; Jersey City, NJ 07310-1202
  • 200 Passaic Ave; Kearny, NJ 07032-1129
  • 621 W Edgar Rd; Linden, NJ 07036-3203
  • 209 Stafford Park Blvd; Manahawkin, NJ 08050-2734
  • 55 US Hwy 9; Manalapan, NJ 07726-3018
  • 751 Route 73 S; Marlton, NJ 08053-9637
  • 380 Consumer Sq; Mays Landing, NJ 08330-3326
  • 2105 Route 35; Middletown, NJ 07748-1301
  • 400 Ryders Ln; Milltown, NJ 08850-1700
  • 2100 N 2nd St; Millville, NJ 08332-1304
  • 4196 US Highway 1; Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852-1904
  • 4 Centerton Rd; Mount Laurel, NJ 08054-6102
  • 7101 Tonnelle Ave; North Bergen, NJ 07047-4507
  • 101 Grand Ave; North Brunswick, NJ 08902-1056
  • 2331 Route 66; Ocean, NJ 07712-3961
  • 800 Schulmeister Rd; Old Bridge, NJ 08857
  • 900 Bergen Town Ctr; Paramus, NJ 07652-5005
  • 1157 Route 46; Parsippany, NJ 07054-2179
  • 1204 New Brunswick Ave; Phillipsburg, NJ 08865-4124
  • 500 Nassau Park Blvd; Princeton, NJ 08540-5991
  • 94 State Rt 23; Riverdale, NJ 07457-1208
  • 381 Mount Hope Ave; Rockaway, NJ 07866-1645
  • 675 Woodbury Glassboro Rd; Sewell, NJ 08080-3733
  • 487 Cross Keys Rd; Sicklerville, NJ 08081-9749
  • 250 New Rd; Somers Point, NJ 08244-2177
  • 5000 Hadley Center Dr; South Plainfield, NJ 07080-1135
  • 1331 Hooper Ave; Toms River, NJ 08753-2822
  • 4001 Black Horse Pike; Turnersville, NJ 08012-1762
  • 2690 US Hwy 22 E; Union, NJ 07083-8512
  • 2235 Springfield Ave; Vauxhall, NJ 07088-1100
  • 1139 White Horse Rd; Voorhees, NJ 08043-2107
  • 1825 NJ-35; Wall Township, NJ 07719-3541
  • 1515 US Highway 22; Watchung, NJ 07069-6509
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