Defending Against Theft Charges in New Jersey

What penalties could I face if I am convicted of theft in New Jersey?

Theft in New Jersey is a serious offense that could result in years of imprisonment and hefty fines.  Potential penalties for a theft crime will depend on the value of the property taken.  Anyone accused of theft in New Jersey will need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will thoroughly investigate the charges and mount your strongest legal defense. 

Theft Crimes Defined

The crime of theft is set out in NJ Rev Stat § 2C:20-3.  There are several variations of the crime of theft.  Theft by unlawful taking or disposition involves unlawfully taking or exercising control over the movable property of another with the purpose to deprive the owner of it or unlawfully transferring the immovable property of another to benefit oneself. 

Other theft crimes include theft by deception and theft by extortion.  Theft by deception involves purposefully obtaining the property of another by deception.  Theft by extortion, on the other hand, requires obtaining the property of another using physical threats of harm.  Both of these theft charges are complex and will require that the prosecutor prove several different elements.

Penalties for Theft in New Jersey

The penalties for theft vary according to the value of the property and other circumstances surrounding the taking.  Theft is a second-degree charge if the value of the item(s) exceeds $75,000.  The maximum penalty for the second-degree crime of theft is up to ten years in prison.  This crime will constitute a felony and will go on your permanent criminal record.  Other circumstances that will elevate theft to a second-degree crime include theft by extortion and theft of illegal drugs.

If the value of the items taken is more than $500 and less than $75,000, it will constitute a third-degree charge.  Defendants could face up to five years in prison.  Items worth less than $500 will be considered theft in the fourth degree with punishment of up to 18 months in prison. 

Anyone accused of theft should take swift action.  While this is a serious crime, it is defendable.  Possible defenses against theft charges could include mistaken identity, illegal search and seizure, and lack of intent.  Your criminal defense attorney will assist you in building a strong defense against the charges you face.