Theft Crimes Attorney Linden and Union County NJ
In criminal law, depending on the circumstances theft may fall under larceny, robbery, embezzlement or fraud
Though theft is not always a straightforward physical act, New Jersey statute §2C:20-3 defines it as the unlawful taking or disposition of movable or immovable property. One can be found guilty of theft if there is evidence that they knowingly and unlawfully took, or exercised unlawful control over, the movable property of another with the purpose to deprive that person thereof. This may include not only money or personal items but also the unlawful transferring of interest in another person’s immovable property, such as real estate or investments, with the purpose of benefitting themselves or another person not entitled to the property.
In criminal law, depending on the circumstances theft may fall under larceny, robbery, embezzlement or fraud. These categories are important if you are facing criminal charges or are the victim of a theft. Here is a short guide to the different categories of theft crimes in New Jersey.
The Definition of Theft under NJ Law
Commonly, theft is defined as the “unlawful taking” or “exercising of control” over someone else’s property. The offender must act with the conscious intent to deprive the owner of the property. The penalties are different depending on the severity of the crime. In New Jersey, the criminal code has a number of specific offenses including theft by deception, extortion, theft of services, shoplifting, and others.
Like many other crimes in New Jersey criminal code, theft crimes fall into different categories:
- Petty theft is a disorderly persons crime and occurs when the amount of the goods/services stolen is less than $200 and is a non-violent offense. The rest of the crimes are ranked from Fourth to First Degree depending on the perpetrator’s actions.
- Non-violent thefts include shoplifting, receiving stolen property, stealing lost or misplaced property as well as other offenses. The amount of goods or services stolen determines the severity of the punishment. Also falling into this category is identity theft. Identity theft is a rapidly rising crime in the internet age and sometimes is classified as a federal crime.
- Robbery is defined as theft in conjunction with a second act, which includes inflicting bodily injury or using force upon someone else and/or threatening to use such force. Robbery is a second-degree crime that includes acts such as carjacking and armed robbery. If convicted, the punishment is up to ten years in prison in addition to massive fines.
- Fraud encompasses the more “white collar” crimes like embezzlement, or theft by deception. Usually, these crimes usually do not involve violence; however, the stolen amount can be very high depending on the scope and sophistication of the scheme.
Penalties for Theft Crimes in New Jersey
The penalties for theft crimes in New Jersey usually vary based on the amount of money or the value of the property that has been stolen and whether there was violence involved.
- Disorderly persons offense: Though a misdemeanor if you are convicted you can still face jail time. A defendant convicted of a misdemeanor theft offense can receive a sentence of up to six months of imprisonment and a monetary fine of up to $1,000.
- Fourth-degree felony: Though the least serious of all felony theft offense charges, it nonetheless carries substantial penalties. A person in New Jersey who is convicted of a fourth-degree felony theft offense can be sentenced to a term of up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-degree felony: A person convicted of a third-degree felony theft offense may receive a prison sentence of three to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony: Second-degree felony theft offenses, upon conviction, carry penalties of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. This serious charge often reflects the high value of property stolen and/or the accompaniment of the theft crime by an additional crime of great severity, such as robbery.
- First-degree felony: A conviction of a first-degree felony can lead to imprisonment for a period of up to 30 years in jail in addition to a fine of up to $200,000. Typically, a first-degree felony is charged only in theft crime cases where the theft was committed in conjunction with a particularly violent crime (for instance, carjacking or armed robbery).
It is important to note that if you are facing any theft crime it is critical to acquire the services of an experienced and skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Retained a skillful Union County Theft Crimes Attorney Today
At Law Offices of Edward S. Cooper, we are experienced supporting our clients across Westfield, Linden, Elizabeth, Plainfield, and Union County with all manner of theft-related charges.
Our unique approach focuses on finding solutions that protect the rights of our clients after an arrest and during the entire legal process.
To speak with our firm today in a comprehensive and confidential case assessment regarding your theft-related charge, please call us at 908-481-4625 for a free consultation or check our online contact form.