Charged With Theft or Shoplifting

Arrested and Charged With Theft or Shoplifting

Do You Need a Juvenile Court Attorney for a Shoplifting or Theft Case?

A conviction for a theft will result in a permanent criminal record detailing the conviction, as well as fines, community service, and possibly even jail time. While a defendant may think the sentence handed down will not be harsh since the theft was minor, it is important to understand the implications of having a permanent criminal record with a theft conviction on it. This can significantly harm an individual’s chances of getting a job, getting into a school, or obtaining a professional license. Pleading guilty to theft in Juvenile Court “just to get it over with” is not the best course of action. It is important you seek proper, qualified representation by a Municipal Court Attorney to ensure that you are taking the most appropriate steps throughout your trial.

It is important to note that prosecutors may be open to allowing a plea deal in certain New Jersey theft cases. Plea deals involve the prosecution agreeing to charge the defendant with a lesser offense in exchange for a guilty plea. In certain theft cases, this may allow defendants to plead guilty in exchange for the prosecution agreeing to drop his or her charge down to a disorderly person’s offense even if the item the defendant stole was valued at over $200. Although this automatically subjects the defendant to a guilty verdict and thus a criminal record and sentence, it also helps the defendant avoid the harsher sentence that can result from being found guilty of a more serious theft crime.


Many people are confused as to what actually constitutes theft in New Jersey. The law actually encompasses a variety of theft-related actions and is much broader than the typical person believes it to be. In fact, there are a multiple of different statutes that a person can be charged with depending on what type of theft is committed. In fact, theft and shoplifting are entirely separate statutes under New Jersey law.

The most common theft crimes are theft of movable property, theft of service, theft by deception, and receipt of stolen property. Theft of movable property is the typical crime one thinks of where someone steals a movable item that isn’t there’s. Theft of service(s) usually involves stealing services that one has not paid for, like telephone or cable TV. Theft by deception involves giving a false impression to another to obtain the property of another, such as pretending to be collecting money for charity for example. Finally, receipt of stolen property involves simply receiving property that one knows was stolen, even if the receiver did not steal it themselves. Receipt of stolen property is a typical example of a crime that many falsely believe to be legal. These are only some of the many laws specifically related to thefts in New Jersey.

New Jersey also has statutes that are specific to the crime of shoplifting. The five basic types of shoplifting under New Jersey law are: (1) purposely taking merchandise from a store; (2) concealing merchandise; (3) altering a price tag; (4) transferring merchandise to another container; and (5) a cashier charging less than the price they are supposed to.

There are numerous laws involving minor theft and shoplifting crimes, many which are not listed here. It is best to consult an experienced Juvenile Court Attorney if you would like any further information, as they are familiar with the specific state laws and can tell you what does and does not constitute a theft or shoplifting crime in New Jersey.


In Juvenile Court, as in all trials, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that a person committed the crime with which they are charged. In order to do so, the prosecution must prove the accused committed all of the “elements” of the crime. The specific elements of the crime are unique to each crime, but this typically means that the prosecution must prove a number of different facts for the accused to be found guilty. This usually works in the defendant’s favor, as an experienced Juvenile Court Attorney is able to take advantage of the fact that the prosecutor may not have strong evidence pertaining to one or more of the elements.


Each crime may have different elements unique to it, such as receipt of stolen property.

In general, a theft charge has three basic elements. The prosecution must show (1) The defendant knowingly and unlawfully took or exercised control over movable property; (2) The movable property belonged to another; and (3) The purpose of the defendant taking the property was to deprive the other person of such property. Once again, the prosecution must prove all three of these elements in order for a defendant to be convicted of minor theft.

Fredrick P. Niemann Esq.

Theft and Shoplifting charges in New Jersey are no joke. Juvenile Courts take these charges very seriously, as should you. It is important to have a knowledgeable NJ Juvenile Court Attorney by your side throughout your trial. Please call Fredrick P. Niemann Esq., an experienced Juvenile Court Attorney, today toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at You’ll find him non-judgmental, easy to talk to and more than willing to discuss your case.


Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Juvenile Court Attorney