In New Jersey, the theft of an automobile is treated more seriously than the theft of most items.
Local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors frequently go after those accused of committing auto theft and related charges. This is partially due to the high cost of automobiles as well as the fact that you can get almost nowhere in this State without a vehicle.
Penalties for Theft
In New Jersey, the penalty for theft of a motor vehicle depends on the value of the vehicle stolen. The penalty for stealing a luxury car is certainly higher than a junker. If you are charged with theft of a motor vehicle, then you could face a term of imprisonment, fines, restitution, and a mandatory loss of license.
Second Degree Theft of a Motor Vehicle: If you are convicted of theft of a motor vehicle, with a value of $75,000 or more, then you face a term of incarceration in New Jersey from 5 to 10 years, and a fine of a least $500, but up to $100,000.
Third Degree Theft of a Motor Vehicle: If you are convicted of theft of a motor vehicle, with a value of a least $500, but less than $75,000, you face a term of incarceration in New Jersey State Prison from 3 to 5 years, and a fine of a least $500, but up $15,000.
Fourth Degree Theft of a Motor Vehicle: If you are convicted of theft of a motor vehicle, with a value of a least $200, but less than $500, you face a term of incarceration in New Jersey State Prison, of 3 to 5 years, and a fine of a least $500, but up $10,000.
Restitution: If the court finds there is a victim that has suffered a loss as a result of the theft, you may be Ordered to pay restitution to that person. This usually occurs when personal property contained in the motor vehicle is thrown out, but could include the value of the car, if the car is damaged, destroyed, or unrecovered.
License Suspension: To discourage theft even further, the court will also suspend your license if you are convicted of theft of a motor vehicle in New Jersey. For a first offense, the license suspension is one year, for a second offense, two years, and for a third offense, ten years. If you do not have a driver’s license, then you will have to wait this same period before becoming eligible to get one.
In addition to theft, if you take a motor vehicle that belongs to another, without permission, then you can be charged with other crimes as well.
Robbery. In. addition to theft, if you take a motor vehicle from another, with a weapon, cause bodily injury, or threaten injury, you can be charged with Second Degree Robbery, in violation of N.J.S. 2C:15-1. This is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. If however, you threaten to kill, attempt to kill, or seriously injure another, then it is a First degree Crime, punishable by 10 to 20 years in Prison. Further, Robbery cannot be expunged and will stay on your record forever.
New Jersey Carjacking Charge: In. addition to theft and robbery, if you take a motor vehicle of another you can be charged with carjacking under N.J.S 2C:15-2, if you inflict bodily harm on another or uses force upon a person in possession of a motor vehicle; if you put a person in possession of a motor vehicle in fear of bodily injury; commits and first or second degree crime while taking the vehicle, or take a motor vehicle with an occupant of the vehicle at the time the car was taken. Carjacking is a crime of the First degree and is punishable by 10 to 30 years in Prison, of which, you must serve 5 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Use of a Juvenile in Theft of an Automobile: Any person who uses a person under the age of 18 to help commit theft of a motor vehicle, is guilty of this crime under N.J.S. 2C:20-17. Use of a Juvenile in Theft of an Automobile in a Second-Degree Crime, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. It is not a defense that you did not know the age of the minor or that you believed they were an adult.
Unlawful Taking of a Means of Conveyance: Any person who takes a means of conveyance (transportation) without permission, with the intention of temporarily depriving the owner, is guilty of Unlawful Taking of a Means of Conveyance, commonly known as “joyriding,” in violation of N.J.S. 2C:20-10. If the conveyance taken was anything other than a motor vehicle, then it is a disorderly persons’ offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. It becomes a Fourth Degree Crime, punishable by up to 18 months in jail, if the conveyance is a motor vehicle. If, during the course of joyriding, you create a risk of injury to another, then you are guilty of a Third Degree crime, which is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison. In addition, if you are a passenger in a vehicle that was taken without permission, then you can be charged with a Fourth Degree crime under N.J.S. 2C:20-10(d).
Defenses to Possession of a Knife
Like all other theft charges, theft of a motor vehicle is a specific intent crime. That is the crime requires that the defendant intentionally commit an act and intend to cause a particular result when committing that act. When it comes to vehicles the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt it was your “specific intent” to permanently deprive the victim of his or her motor vehicle. Failure to prove intent to “permanently” deprive, may lead to the charges being reduced to joyriding.
In addition, it is an affirmative defense that you had permission to take or use the vehicle, or that you are the lawful owner of the vehicle.
Contact Our Offices Today!
If you are facing a charge of theft of a motor vehicle, robbery, carjacking, use of a minor during an automobile theft, etc., the potential consequences can be severe. Having strong legal advocacy, from an experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense attorney, is crucial in these circumstances.
Steven W. Hernandez will provide you with aggressive representation to mitigate, or possibly eliminate, the penalties associated with your charges. To help ensure your rights and future are protected, allow a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Theft lawyer, from our firm, fight for you. Request a free consultation. Call us today at 732-286-2700.