Theft Crime Lawyers in New Jersey: Common Defense Strategies and Tactics

  • Criminal Defense

5 Possible Strategies to Defend Against Theft Crimes

According to crime data published by the state of New Jersey, there are thousands of cases of theft crimes annually. These crimes involve instances of robbery, burglary, and motor vehicle theft among others. For example, if you take part in receiving and selling stolen goods, you may be charged with fencing.

Being charged with a theft crime can be frightening. While these charges run the gamut from disorderly person’s offenses to indictable crimes, some do come with very serious penalties that could include years in jail and other consequences if you’re found guilty. For anyone charged with such crimes, a strong criminal defense is important.

One of the first steps you may want to take when you’re charged with a theft crime—or any other crime, for that matter—is to reach out to an experienced criminal law attorney. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand your options and what outcomes you might expect from various strategies or actions.

For example, a defense attorney may walk you through the facts of your case and the potential evidence against you. This can help you make a more educated decision about whether to accept a plea bargain or move forward to defend your innocence. A few common strategies for doing the latter are summarized below.

Prove That You Own or Legitimately Thought You Owned the Property

You can’t unlawfully take that which belongs to you in the first place. If you can prove that you owned something—even if someone else thinks that they were the owner for some reason—it can help greatly with your defense.

Some potential ways of proving ownership can include copies of documents such as receipts or titles. Witness testimony backing your claim to ownership might also help.

If you were the party that misunderstood the ownership of some property, you may be able to defend yourself if you can demonstrate that was the case. If you truly thought you owned something and it was all a misunderstanding, the court might look more favorably on the case.

Demonstrate That You Lacked Knowledge About or Control Over the Property

In many cases, you must have knowingly taken something and had control over it. For example, say you walk out of a store and are stopped by security. You are found to have a valuable item in your pocket, but you know you didn’t put it there.

Video security footage of the store may show that someone else slipped the item into your pocket without you knowing. In this case, that fact would be important to your defense.

Claim a Lack of Intent to Take the Item Permanently

If you can demonstrate that you had no intent to unlawfully take property from another person permanently, you may have a sort of defense. Of course, you have a stronger case if you can show that the other person was aware that you took the item originally and even agreed that you could borrow it. If you then forgot to give it back in a timely manner, this may not be considered theft.

However, if you take something without the owner’s knowledge and don’t return it quickly, it may look less innocent. You may have to do a bit more work to prove that you had no intention of keeping the item, and even then, you have to overcome the issue that you didn’t have permission to take it in the first place.

Show You Acted Under Duress

One possible defense against many types of crimes is to show that you did not act of your own will. If you engaged in theft crime under duress because you feared for your safety or life—or the safety or life of someone else—this may afford you a viable defense strategy.

For example, say someone threatens you with serious bodily harm if you do not steal money from someone else’s home or wallet. If you can prove you had a reasonable fear and belief that the threatening party would carry through on their promise, you may have a good defense.

Attack the Details of the Charge

Another approach to criminal defense is attacking the validity of the charge itself. Every type of theft crime has its own definition and limitations, often including the dollar amount of the value of the items allegedly taken.

If you did take the items in question, you might try to demonstrate that they are much less valuable than is claimed in the charge. This could reduce the charge against you in some cases, and, in turn, the potential sentence you might face.

Work With an Experienced Criminal Law Attorney

The above summaries of potential defense strategies are not meant to be advice and certainly don’t provide how-to steps for defending yourself against theft crimes. Every case is different, and it’s essential to consider all the factors of a case before arriving at any defense strategy.

If you’re facing criminal charges, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights and increase the chances of a more positive outcome. Don’t take chances by defending yourself. Instead, reach out to the team at the Hernandez Law Firm, P.C. We will take time to help you understand the charges against you and work with you to create the most viable defense possible in your individual case. Call us at 732-582-5076.

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