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Retailers may face a scary thing on Halloween: criminal charges


As Halloween quickly approaches, many New Jersey residents are putting the finishing touches on their costumes. Some costumes are more extravagant than others, while others still are simple yet creative.

This time of year is great for Halloween costume stores. But what some retailers do not know is that selling one particular piece of a costume could result in criminal charges. Recently the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs warned retailers that selling novelty contact lenses is a fourth-degree crime.

These types of lenses are often used to give costumes that extra flair, adding intensity to costumes such as zombie costumes. Referred to as novelty lenses, they are not intended for prescription use but, similar to prescription contact lenses, are placed directly on the eye.

However, New Jersey Law prohibits the sale of novelty contact lenses unless they were dispensed by a licensed dispenser. This means that if a retailer is not a medical practitioner, a licensed ophthalmic dispenser or an optometrist, they could be charged with a crime for selling these types of lenses. Penalties can range from $1,000 to at least $10,000, depending on whether the retailer has prior similar offenses.

The concern was raised after the FDA began receiving reports of eye injuries due to novelty lenses sold by unlicensed retailers. Consumers are encouraged to report retailers who have sold them novelty contact lenses.

Being charged with a crime can lead to a number of different consequences. The consequences can be far-reaching, moving beyond the legal sanctions mentioned above. Anyone, retailers or individuals alike, who has been charged with a crime should understand the implications of a conviction and take steps to protect their rights and future.

Source: South Brunswick Patch: "State: Novelty Contact Lenses are Dangerous, Illegal," New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Oct. 28, 2011

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