Facing charges for theft in New Jersey can be an extremely daunting process and may leave you with significant fears about your future. Depending on the nature of the charges, you may face large fines and incarceration, which could have a detrimental effect on future employment and education prospects, as well as even finding a place to live.
If you have been charged with theft, seek legal representation with a defense attorney in New Jersey. A theft attorney can help protect your rights during your case.
Types of Theft and Punishments
Title 2C:20 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice outlines what constitutes theft, which specifically states that “a person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another” with the intent of depriving that person thereof.
Theft charges are separated into different categories. The least serious type of theft, often referred to as “petty theft” in some jurisdictions, occurs if the stolen item is worth less than $200. This is a “disorderly person offense,” which may carry a prison term of up to six months and a fine of $1,000.
If the amount was between $200 and $500, it may be considered a crime of the fourth degree, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. It is considered a crime of the third degree if the amount was between $500 and $75,000, with punishments of three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Additionally, if the worth of the stolen item was higher than $75,000, it is considered theft as a crime of the second degree, which may carry a prison term of between five and 10 years, as well as a fine of up to $150,000.
Defenses to Theft Charges
Those facing jail time or massive fines related to theft charges in New Jersey should secure legal representation who can utilize a variety of defenses in the courtroom.
Some common defenses to theft charges include:
- lack of intent – a defendant may not be guilty if he or she did not intend to deprive another of property;
- disparities in worth – the charges may be reduced if it can be shown that a piece of property is actually worth less than advertised;
- claim of ownership – it cannot be considered theft if the defendant can demonstrate actual ownership over the property; and
- lack of knowledge of possession – this defense can be employed if a defendant has been charged of possessing stolen property, and if he or she did not know that the property was stolen in the first place.
Contact a Defense Attorney in New Jersey
No matter the circumstances of your case, if you have been charged with theft in New Jersey, seek the services of legal counsel. The attorneys at Dash Farrow, LLP help clients charged with theft and other crimes in New Jersey and can provide you with legal representation during this troubling time. Please contact us today by calling 856-235-8300.