Theft may sound like a minor criminal charge, but this isn’t always the case. Theft charges can result in several years in jail, and even a petty theft or shoplifting conviction can leave you with a permanent criminal record. When you are facing criminal charges, you need the help of an experienced defense attorney.Charged with a crime in New Jersey? Please call (800) 673-3656
There’s more than one way to get a theft charge in New Jersey. In fact, there are numerous offenses that are considered theft. Whether you are accused of shoplifting or theft by deception, I can help.
New Jersey Theft Laws & Penalties
What type of sentence do I face if convicted? Currently, under New Jersey law, the charge you face for a theft offense is directly related to the value of the goods or services in question. Obviously, if the theft is valued at a greater dollar amount, your charge and subsequent penalties will be increased.
|Theft Value||Charge||Potential Sentence|
|$75,000 or more||2nd degree crime||Up to 10 years in prison|
|More than $500 and less than $75,000||3rd degree crime||Up to 5 years in prison|
|More than $200 up to $500||4th degree crime||Up to 18 months in jail|
|Less than $200||Disorderly persons offense||Up to 6 months in jail|
Theft can be charged as a Second Degree Crime if any of the following apply:
- If the value is greater than $75,000
- If the property is taken by extortion,
- If the property is considered a dangerous or controlled substance and is greater than 1 kilogram,
- If the property involves human remains
Theft can be charged as a Third Degree Crime if any of the following apply:
- The value is more than $500 and less than $75,000,
- The property is a gun, automobile, boat, airplane, or pet,
- the property is a controlled or dangerous substance valued less than $75,000 and less than one kilogram,
- it is taken from the person of the victim (as in from their pocket or hand),
- it is taken by threat ,
- it is someone’s benefits including Social Security, TANF, food stamps, etc.
- it is a blank prescription, or
- it is anhydrous ammonia used to manufacture methamphetamines
For amounts less than posted here, see chart above.
The fact is: the repercussions for a theft offense can be very serious. These charges apply to everything from shoplifting to receiving stolen property. Luckily, there are affirmative defenses under the law for some cases of theft.
Legal Defenses to Theft Charges
There are a few valid “excuses” that the courts allow as legal defenses to theft. If you were unaware that the property belonged to someone else or if you act under what the law calls an honest claim of right to the property, we could get the charges dropped.
Also, if the property was exposed for sale and you intended to actually purchase it, believing the owner would consent, we can very likely beat the theft charge. But proving these defenses isn’t always easy.
Ref: NJ Stat. §2C: 20-2
More New Jersey Theft Charge Legal Defense Strategies
If you are charged with theft or shoplifting simply because you were with someone who committed the crime, perhaps without your knowledge, you shouldn’t be facing criminal penalties.
In other cases, what a good defense lawyer can do is minimize the damage. If, as in many shoplifting cases, the store has you on surveillance video, it is hard to argue that you are innocent. But a lawyer’s role is no less important for making sentencing arguments for leniency based on a variety of factors, such as no previous criminal history, prior evidence of being a valuable and upstanding member of the community, etc. There may be deals to be cut for restitution.
But every case is difference, and the right defense approach will vary considerably. In order to know the best defense for your particular case, I need to know the details.
Call me today to discuss the charges against you and the best way to get them resolved. I can give you some valuable legal advice and we can discuss representation as well. I will let you know exactly what I can do to help you fix this problem.
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