Theft Crimes & Penalties in New Jersey

Conviction Could Mean Up to 10 Years in Prison and Up to $200,000 in Fines

NJ Theft CrimesTheft crimes are those that involve the taking of something that does not belong to you, without the consent of the owner. To be convicted, a jury must find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of his or her property.

Theft crimes are serious. A conviction can result in a lengthy jail sentence, hefty fines and, when you are released from prison, difficulty finding a job.

If you have been charged with a theft crime in New Jersey, it is critical that you hire a competent, experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.

What is Theft?

Theft is the taking of personal property, such as money, goods, or another object that you can move or transport. The severity of the crime depends on the value of the property taken.

  • Second Degree. If the item(s) taken are worth $75,000 or more, are taken by extortion, or the property is a controlled substance, the theft will be charged as a crime of the second degree, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000.
  • Third Degree. If the property taken is valued at more than $500 but less than $75,000, or is a firearm, motor vehicle, boat, horse, or airplane, the theft is an offense of the third degree, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
  • Fourth Degree. Theft of an item valued at more than $200 but less than $500 is a fourth degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Disorderly Persons Offense. Theft of an item valued at less than $200 is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Other Theft Offenses

Burglary, Robbery, Aggravated Robbery, Shoplifting

Burglary, Robbery, Aggravated Robbery, and Shoplifting are similar to Theft in that they all involve taking the property of another. However, these crimes have different elements that distinguish them from general theft offenses.

You can be charged with Burglary if you enter a structure, without permission, with the intent of committing a crime inside. For example, if you enter someone else’s vehicle to take it for a joyride, you can be charged with Burglary. The prosecutor will try to prove illegal intent through the surrounding circumstances. Burglary is a crime of the third degree, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Aggravated Burglary occurs if, while committing a crime or trying to escape, you inflict bodily harm on anyone, or if you are armed with what appears to be a deadly weapon. Aggravated burglary is a crime of the second degree, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000.

Robbery is the taking of property directly from another person by force, the threat of force or being armed with a weapon. Robbery is different from Burglary in that Burglary involves entering a structure, while Robbery is taking something from a person.

You can be found guilty of Robbery if you inflict bodily injury, use force, commit a first or second degree crime, or threaten someone with immediate fear of bodily injury during the course of a theft.

Robbery is a crime of the second degree, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to a $150,000. Additionally, a person convicted of Second Degree Robbery is required to serve a minimum term of at least 85% of their term of incarceration pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA). Robbery is a crime of the first degree if a weapon, i.e. a firearm, knife, etc, is used, and is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. The No Early Release Act also applies.

Shoplifting is the taking of an item of merchandise. New Jersey prosecutes five kinds of Shoplifting:

  • Taking Merchandise – purposely taking merchandise from a store without paying for it.
  • Concealment – concealing merchandise with the intent to carry out a theft. Intent may be presumed when merchandise is concealed but not paid for.
  • Altering or Transferring a Price Tag – transferring, altering, or removing a label or price tag with the intent to deprive the merchant of the monetary value of the item.
  • Transferring Merchandise to Another Container – putting items into a container with the intent to commit a theft.
  • Under-Ringing Merchandise – purposely causing the sale price to reflect less than the full value of the merchandise with the intent of depriving the merchant of the true value of the item.

What should you do if you have been charged with a theft crime?

Defense Lawyer Out of JailIf you are facing criminal charges for Theft, Robbery, Burglary, or Shoplifting, you should hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These are serious charges that have significant implications for your future. As a New Jersey criminal defense attorney, I will investigate your case, raise any possible defenses, and challenge the evidence presented against you. If successful, we may be able to negotiate a plea for a lesser sentence, or even have your case thrown out.

If you or someone you care about is facing theft charges, contact me at The Slaven Law Firm today. A former prosecutor, I have extensive experience handling theft cases throughout Central New Jersey, including Middlesex County, Burlington County, and Mercer County. Call me at (609) 587-3250, or complete my online form.