One of the most common crimes that occurs in New Jersey, is Theft, by unlawful taking, under N.J.S. 2C:20-3. To be a theft, there must be taking property, either moveable or immovable, that belongs to another person, without their permission. Moveable property is any property that can be moved from one location to another.
It can be a small item, such a piece of candy, or a large item, like an airplane. Immovable property is all other property, such as land or a home. The seriousness of the theft depends on the value of the items taken, or whether you were part of an organized theft network.
Theft only requires that you take property belonging to another with the intent to permanently deprive that person of that property. It does not matter whether the item is small or large. However, the theft of certain items, like vehicles have enhanced penalties.
Punishment for Theft
In new Jersey, just like other crimes, Theft charges in New Jersey, are graded from the least serious to the most. The least serious are Disorderly Persons charges, and will be resolved in the local Municipal Court, while the more serious theft charges range from Fourth Degree to Second Degree Theft. Criminal Theft charges will be handled in the Superior Court for the county in which the crime occurred.
Disorderly Person’s Theft: If you are convicted of taking less than $200 dollars in value of property, from another, without permission to do so, then you are guilty of a disorderly person’s offense. This is petty theft, and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, and up to a $1,000 fine.
Fourth Degree Theft: If you are convicted of taking property with a value of $200, but less than $500, then you are guilty of a Fourth Degree Crime, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. Theft of any Prescription Blank Pad is a Third Degree Crime under N.J.S. 2C:20-2b(2)(j) or Drugs under N.J.S. 2C:20-2(b)(2)(c).
Third Degree Theft: If you are convicted of taking property with a value of $500, but less than $75,000, then you are guilty of a Third-Degree Crime, which is punishable by up to 3 to 5 years in prison, and up to a $15,000 fine.
Second Degree Theft: If you are convicted of taking property with a value of $500, but less than $75,000, then you are guilty of a Second-Degree Crime, which is punishable by up to 5 to 10 years in prison, and up to a $100,000 fine. Second Degree theft is usually associated with embezzlement of entrusted funds, money laundering, taking trade secrets, and being part of an organized theft network.
New Jersey Theft Charges
Besides theft by unlawful taking, if you knowingly take the property of another, there are other crimes you can be charged with.
Shoplifting: besides a theft charge, you can also be charged with shoplifting, [link to shoplifting page] if you took property offered for sale by a merchant. A conviction for shoplifting will require a term of community service and could land you a mandatory jail sentence, if you are a repeat offender.
Unlawful Taking of a Conveyance “Joyriding”:Under N.J.S. 2C:20-10(b), you can be charges with a crime of the Fourth degree, if you temporarily take the motor vehicle belonging to another person, without permission. It becomes a crime of the Third Degree, if you temporarily take the vehicle and operate it so it creates a risk of injury to another.
Carjacking: During a car theft, if youuse a weapon, threaten to harm the occupants of the car, orforce someone to drive you in their car, then you can be charged with the First-Degree crime of Carjackingunder N.J.S. 2C:15-2. This crime is punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison.
Identity Theft N.J.S. 2C:21-17: Theft of another person’s identity, to obtain a benefit, is a Fourth-Degree crime, if the benefit gained was less than $500. It is a crime of the Third-Degree if the benefit received was at least $500, but less than $75,000, and it is a Second-Degree crime if the benefit was $75,000 or more. Because of the damage identity theft can do to a person’s reputation, courts are generally not as lenient with these offenders.
Theft by DeceptionN.J.S. 2C:20-4: This crime occurs when a person obtains property of another by using deception. Theft by deception can be committed three ways. The first occurs when a person creates a false impression as to the value of an item to obtain that item at a lower price, or that funds received will go to charity. The second occurs when a person keeps another from acquiring information that would affect his judgment on a transaction, and the final way occurs when a person fails to correct a false impression he may have created and that false impression influences that person to enter a transaction.
Theft by Extortion, N.J.S. 2C:20-5: This is probably the most serious theft that one can commit, other than Robbery. Like, other theft offenses, the seriousness depends on the value extorted from the victim. Besides the possibility of incarceration and fines, a New Jersey Extortion charge cannot be expunged.
Receiving Stolen Property, N.J.S. 2C:20-7: It is not just a crime to take something that doesn’t belong to you, it is also a crime to knowingly receive stolen property. There seriousness of this offense depends on the value of the items received.
Theft of Services, N.J.S. 2C:20-8: It is a crime to knowingly obtain the services of another, knowing they expect to be compensated for those services and does not pay for those services.
Robbery: N.J.S. 2C:15-1:If you use a weapon during ta theft, then you can be charged with Robbery. Second Degree robbery, which is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, requires the use of a weapon, use of force upon another, or threat of force upon another. It becomes a crime of the First Degree if you use the weapon to attempt to kill, purposefully inflict serious bodily injury on another, or threatens to immediately use the weapon with deadly force.
Burglary, 2C:18-2, If you enter the property of another (including car), with the purpose to commit any crime within, then you are guilty of burglary. It does not matter whether any items were taken, or that any crime was actually committed. Burglary is a crime of the Second Degree if a weapon was used, harm was threatened, or you were armed with an explosive. Otherwise, it is a Third-Degree crime.
Defending Theft Charges:
Being charged with a theft, or theft related crime, does not mean you are automatically guilty, these charges can be defended against. There is a common element is every theft charge, and that is you knew the items did not belong to you and that you did not have permission to take them. You cannot be found guilty, if you had a lawful right to the property taken, or a reasonable belief you had permission to take them. If you are charged with receiving stolen property, then it is a defense you did not know the items were taken from another.
In addition, the police may have violated your constitutional rights when arrested you or when they recovered the stolen items. It is possible that your Fourth Amendment Rights were violated if the police did not have a warrant, or an exception to the warrant requirement, when they took the items from you or when they arrested you. If you were not Mirandized, but questioned after arrest, then your Miranda Rights may have been violated.
If your charges cannot be dismissed, and a conviction looks certain, then it may be possible to reduce the severity through plea bargaining. It may be possible to avoid a conviction by entering into a diversion program like Pretrial Intervention, A Conditional Dismissal, or even Drug Court, if you are a drug addict. If a diversion is impossible, and you face jail, or prison, it is possible to get you a term of probation and avoid incarceration.
Contact Our Law Firm Now!
If you are facing a theft , burglary, robbery, or carjacking in New Jersey, 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. Hernandezrepresents people charged with state and federal theft violations and related crimes. Due to the severe consequences of a theft conviction, you do not want to take chances with your defense. You need a lawyer with the experience and skill to protect your rights and keep you out of prison. Attorney, 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 Theft Defense lawyer, from our firm, fight for you. To request a free consultation, call us today at 732-286-2700.