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New Jersey Theft Laws
New Jersey Theft Laws

2A:61C-1  Shoplifting, retail thefts, civil action; provided.

1.  a.  A person who commits the offense of shoplifting as defined in N.J.S.2C:20-11 or a person who commits the offense of theft as defined in Chapter 20 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes by stealing food or drink from an eating establishment shall be liable for any criminal penalties imposed by law and shall be liable to the merchant in a civil action in an amount equal to the following: 

(1) The value of the merchandise as damages, not to exceed $500, if the merchandise cannot be restored to the merchant in its original condition;

(2) Additional damages, if any, arising from the incident, not to include any loss of time or wages incurred by the merchant in connection with the apprehension of the defendant; and 

(3) A civil penalty payable to the merchant in an amount of up to $150.

b. A parent, guardian or other person having legal custody of a minor who commits the offense of shoplifting  or the offense of theft of food or drink from an eating establishment shall be liable to the merchant for the damages specified in subsection a. of this section.  This subsection shall not apply to a parent whose parental custody and control of such minor has been removed by court order, decree, judgment, military service, or marriage of such infant, or to a resource family parent of such minor. 

c. If a merchant institutes a civil action pursuant to the provisions of this section, the prevailing party in that action shall be entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and reasonable court costs.

d. Limitations on civil action:

(1) Before a civil action may be commenced, the merchant shall send a notice to the defendant's last known address giving the defendant 20 days to respond.  It is not a condition precedent to maintaining an action under this act that the defendant has been convicted of shoplifting or theft . 

(2) No civil action under this act may be maintained if the defendant has paid the merchant a penalty equal to the retail value of the merchandise where the merchandise was not recovered in its original condition, plus a sum of up to $150. 

(3) The provisions of this act do not apply in any case where the value of the merchandise exceeds $500.

e. If the person to whom a written demand is made complies with such demand within 20 days following the receipt of the demand, that person shall be given a written release from further civil liability with respect to the specific act of shoplifting or theft



2A:62-1.  By person in peaceable possession

    Any person in the peaceable possession of lands in this state and claiming ownership thereof, may, when his title thereto, or any part thereof, is denied or disputed, or any other person claims or is claimed to own the same, or any part thereof or interest therein, or to hold a lien or encumbrance thereon, and  when no action is pending to enforce or test the validity of such title, claim  or encumbrance, maintain an action in the superior court to settle the title to  such lands and to clear up all doubts and disputes concerning the same.

L.1951 (1st SS), c.344.

2A:62-2.  Presumption of peaceable possession
    If the lands are not, by reason of their extent or because they are wild, wood, waste, uninclosed or unimproved, in the actual peaceable possession of the owner or person claiming ownership, the owner or person claiming ownership in fee under a deed or other instrument, duly recorded in this state, who has paid taxes thereon and to whom or to whose grantors the taxes thereon have been  assessed for 5 consecutive years immediately prior to the commencement of the  action authorized by section 2A:62-1 of this title, shall, if no other person  is in actual possession thereof, be presumed to be in peaceable possession  thereof, and shall have all the rights and benefits of and be subject to all  the provisions of this article and articles 2 and 4 of this chapter.

2C:3-10.  Justification in property crimes
    Conduct involving the appropriation, seizure or destruction of, damage to, intrusion on, or interference with, property is justifiable under circumstances  which would establish a defense of privilege in a civil action based thereon,  unless:

    a.  The code or the law defining the offense deals with the specific situation involved;  or

    b.  A legislative purpose to exclude the justification claimed otherwise plainly appears.

     L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:3-10, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

2C:3-11  Definitions.

2C:3-11.  Definitions.  In this chapter, unless a different meaning plainly is required:  a. "Unlawful force" means force, including confinement, which is employed without the consent of the person against whom it is directed and the employment of which constitutes an offense or actionable tort or would constitute such offense or tort except for a defense (such as the absence of intent, negligence, or mental capacity; duress, youth, or diplomatic status) not amounting to a privilege to use the force.  Assent constitutes consent, within the meaning of this section, whether or not it otherwise is legally effective, except assent to the infliction of death or serious bodily harm.

b. "Deadly force" means force which the actor uses with the purpose of causing or which he knows to create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm.  Purposely firing a firearm in the direction of another person or at a vehicle, building or structure in which another person is believed to be constitutes deadly force unless the firearm is loaded with less-lethal ammunition and fired by a law enforcement officer in the performance of the officer's official duties.  A threat to cause death or serious bodily harm, by the production of a weapon or otherwise, so long as the actor's purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that he will use deadly force if necessary, does not constitute deadly force.

c. "Dwelling" means any building or structure, though movable or temporary, or a portion thereof, which is for the time being the actor's home or place of lodging except that, as used in 2C:3-7, the building or structure need not be the actor's own home or place of lodging.

d. "Serious bodily harm" means bodily harm which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or which results from aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault.

e. "Bodily harm" means physical pain, or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of physical condition.

f. "Less-lethal ammunition" means ammunition approved by the Attorney General which is designed to stun, temporarily incapacitate or cause temporary discomfort to a person without penetrating the person's body.  The term shall also include ammunition approved by the Attorney General which is designed to gain access to a building or structure and is used for that purpose.

L.1978, c.95; amended 1979, c.178, s.11; 1981, c.290, s.7; 1987, c.120, s.3; 2005, c.250, s.1.

2C:4-1.  Insanity defense
    A person is not criminally responsible for conduct if at the time of such conduct he was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind  as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did  know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong. Insanity is an affirmative defense which must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence.

 

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Disclaimer
Please note, the theft law information on this page is provided as a courtesy to help explain theft, shoplifting and stealing laws. There is no guarantee or assurance of reliability or validity. Laws change over time and this page may or may not be current. The code that is provided on this site is an unofficial posting of the State Codes. The files making up this Internet version of the State Codes do not constitute the official text of the State Codes and are intended for informational purposes only. No representation is made as to the accuracy or completeness of these sections. While every effort was made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the statutes available Offender Solutions™ shall not be liable or held responsible for any errors or omissions which may occur in these files, they are provided on an "As Is" basis. Use of the information and services are at the sole risk of the user. For official versions of any state's current laws, the user is directed to that states Revised Statutes, all amendments and cumulative supplements thereto published by that state. Please notify the Webmaster if you find any irregularities in the statutes on this web site. The Webmaster will relay the information to appropriate staff to investigate the irregularities. The printed version of the State Codes should be consulted for all matters requiring reliance on the statutory text. If you were involved in a theft or shoplifting incident you are encouraged to consider taking a theft cloass, theft course or shoplifting education class such as the one provided by offender solutions. Research shows theft school and/or theft education can be an effective theft prevention. Offender Solutions™ is an online theft education, shoplifting education class about stealing, it can be very effective if you want to stop stealing. Evan it was a small theft, a petty theft class or petty theft school could be right for you!

 

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SHOPLIFTING  THEFT STEALING

Shoplifting is not a crime, it is a euphemism for the word stealing or theft, and theft is a crime. I'm not sure why our culture allowed the word "theft" to be different for someone who steals from a store, but the effect has been to minimize its seriousness in the mind of the shoplifter, our society and, interestingly, the police. It would seem logical for someone who is shoplifting to minimize the seriousness of this crime by calling it "shoplifting", but for the police to be swayed to this way of thinking is no less sacrilegious than for an American citizen to allow the euphemism, "casualty of war" to replace the word "death", minimizing the sacrifices of our Veterans.

The same point can be made of the term "petty theft". Doesn't the word "petty" conjure up notions of insignificance, unimportance and irrelevance? It almost appears the police and our society have fallen victim to a very successful propaganda campaign intending to minimize the seriousness of theft from a store by calling it "shoplifting". Actually, if you take time to think about it, whether the item is stolen from a store, your employer, or, has great or small value, it is still stealing. It is also a statement about the shoplifters character.

I don't work for a store or retailer and I do not spend my time trying to show retailers how to better protect themselves from shoplifting with cameras, mirrors, electronic tags, security personnel, etc. I spend my time helping theft offenders think through their actions, attitudes, values and beliefs. Working with most people who steal is not all that difficult. What I have discovered through theft offender counseling is that most theft offenders have relatively transparent thinking errors. For example, if you believed 2 + 3 equals 6 you would have a thinking error. Your thinking error would not readily be identified, (How often do you do math out loud or in front of someone, and, to take it even further, how many people are willing to confront you with your math error?). However, once this thinking error is identified, you would be quick to self correct.

There is also such a thing as a "cultural thinking error." One common cultural thinking error occurs when we minimize the impact of shoplifting by buying into the notion that if someone is "shoplifting", he must be a victim. Common cultural thinking errors are that theft offenders are victims of poverty, poor parenting, hunger, alcohol and drugs, ADHD, peer pressure, etc. The fact is, most people who steal from stores are none of the above and, all people who choose to steal from stores have options to stealing. Oh, kleptomania you say?

People who are shoplifting are not all that different from you and I. Simply stated, the primary differences include, 1) an overdose of selfishness, 2) a stronger than normal attraction to the forbidden, 3) thinking errors you and I don't have, and, most of all, 4) they don't self punish the thought of stealing.