Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Defending Against Burglary and Theft Charges

How much prison time could I receive if I am convicted of burglary?

Burglary and theft are both property crimes that carry potentially serious penalties in the state of New Jersey.  While the crimes of theft, robbery, and burglary are often lumped together, these crimes have quite different definitions and penalties vary widely depending on which crime you have been accused.  Anyone charged with a theft related crime should contact a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer for assistance with mounting a strong defense against these grave charges.

Burglary Overview

The crime of burglary involves the unauthorized entry onto someone else’s property with the intent to commit a crime.  The prosecutor must show that you entered the property in order to commit a theft, robbery, assault, arson, or another serious crime.  You do not need to actually commit the crime to be convicted of burglary.  Intent to commit a crime and actual entry is sufficient to prove the crime.

If convicted of burglary, you could be sentenced to up to five years and fined up to $15,000.  If someone is injured during the burglary, your punishment may be even more severe.  As a felony offense, it will remain on your criminal record.

Theft Overview

Theft in New Jersey involves unlawfully taking or exercising control over property that belongs to someone else with the purpose to permanently deprive them of the property.  There are several different specific theft crimes.  The punishment you face for theft will depend on the exact statute you are charged under and the value of the property you allegedly took.

Theft crimes range from misdemeanors to felonies.  Thefts of less than $200 will constitute a disorderly persons offense, which is a misdemeanor. Thefts of between $200 and $500 equate to a fourth degree felony, while thefts of between $500 and $75,000 are third degree felonies.  Theft of anything above $75,000 will be a second degree felony.

Potential Defenses

Your exact defense against a theft or burglary charge will depend on the exact circumstances surrounding the alleged crime.  Potential defenses to raise could include challenging the elements of the crime, such as contesting your intent to deprive the person of their property.  You may also raise questions of mistaken identity.  You could urge that you entered the property but did not intend to commit a crime.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest to get started protecting your legal rights.

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