If you are facing charges of theft in the state of New Jersey, it’s important to understand the type of theft charges you are facing. Theft crimes in New Jersey can involve a number of different criminal offenses that involve the unauthorized possession of someone else’s property. This can include theft by deception, theft by extortion, theft of services, or shoplifting. In this article, we explain all of the different forms of theft crimes in New Jersey, the penalties for these crimes, as well as what to do if you are being charged with theft.
Elements of Theft
There are two major elements of theft that you should be aware of. The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice defines theft through moveable property and immovable property.
Moveable property: A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another with the purpose to deprive him thereof.
Immoveable property: A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully transfers any interest in immovable property of another with the purpose to benefit himself or another not entitled to it.
All theft crimes in New Jersey will be defined through these terms and can include one or both elements in a theft charge.
Theft by Deception
Theft crimes in New Jersey include theft by deception. This is when a person intentionally deceives another person with the purpose of obtaining their property. It’s important to point out that this doesn’t mean that it’s considered theft by deception when someone promises to do something and they don’t do it. For instance, if you pay for someone to mow your lawn and they don’t do it, it’s not considered theft by deception. Theft by deception is the act of formulating a false belief or impression with the intention to steal. For instance, if someone pretends to be an FBI agent to access your personal accounts, this would be considered theft by deception.
Theft by deception also includes preventing an individual from gaining certain information that would affect their reasoning for completing a transaction. If you fail to correct a false impression or you reinforce a false impression, you can be charged with theft by deception.
Theft crimes in New Jersey also include theft by extortion. Theft by extortion is when a person utilizes threats to possess someone else’s property or money. There are many different ways an individual can threaten another. A person can use violence or fear to threaten someone to gain property or money. They can also use blackmail as a form of threat to get what they want. For instance, threatening to expose someone in a way that damages their life or reputation can be considered blackmail and theft by extortion. Theft by extortion doesn’t need to take place in person. A threat can be sent through phone, email, text or other communications.
Theft of Services
Also included in the list of theft crimes in New Jersey is theft of services. This is when an individual receives some form of service from another person or company and doesn’t pay for it. For instance, a common example of theft of service is when someone eats or drinks at a restaurant and then leaves without paying. Stealing cable or wifi can also be considered theft of service. You can be charged with theft of service by simply not paying for the service or if you use violence, threats, or deception in order to receive these services.
One of the most common forms of theft crimes in New Jersey is the act of shoplifting. Of course, most people understand that if you take something from a store without paying for it, it’s considered shoplifting. However, there are some other unlawful actions that can also be filed as a shoplifting charge. For instance, switching a price tag or label on an item could also be considered shoplifting.
Penalties for Theft Crimes in New Jersey
New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice penalizes theft crimes in the following terms:
Disorderly Persons Offense (the lowest level):
- 30 days to 6 months in jail
- Possible fines
Fourth Degree Theft:
- Property stolen equates to the value of $200 but less than $500
- Up to 18 months in jail.
- Fines up to $10,000 or double the stolen amount
Third Degree Theft
- Property stolen equates to the value of $500, but less than $75,000
- There was theft of a firearm, boat, plane, car, or companion animal
- 3-5 years in jail
- Fines up to $15,000 or double the amount that was stolen
Second Degree Theft
- Property stolen equates to the value of $75,000 or more
- 5-10 years in jail
- Fines up to $150,000 or double the stolen amount
For More Information on Theft Crimes in New Jersey
It’s essential to contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you are being charged with any of the crimes stated above. A criminal defense attorney can help you to understand your charges and formulate the best way to move forward. Contact Douglas Herring today to learn more!