Middlesex County Theft Lawyer

Theft under New Jersey generally law refers to taking or exercising control over the property of another person unlawfully with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. Theft includes offenses such as shoplifting, extortion, embezzlement, receiving stolen property, auto theft, and computer theft.

In many cases, the severity of the charge depends on the value of the property taken and penalties can be quite severe. However, there are defenses that can be raised in theft cases. Therefore, if you are facing these allegations, you should consult with a Middlesex County theft lawyer. A skilled criminal lawyer can help you understand your options and how to take steps to protect your rights and work toward the best possible outcome.

The Equivalent of Petty Theft in Middlesex County

By and large, theft in New Jersey is divided into four categories, three of which are serious crimes. The least serious version of theft is considered a "disorderly persons" offense and is the equivalent of a misdemeanor similar to petty theft in other jurisdictions.

This version of theft is described in §2C:20-2 of the New Jersey code as occurring when someone takes property that is worth less than $200 or takes an electronic vehicle identification system transponder. Those convicted of this offense may be sentenced to up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 or twice the value of the amount gained in the theft.

Theft as Second, Third, or Fourth Degree Offense

Different circumstances will cause a more serious theft to be classified as a second, third, or fourth-degree offense. If the amount taken is more than $200 but less than $500, the theft is considered a fourth-degree offense. The maximum fine jumps to $10,000 and the maximum term of imprisonment increases to 18 months.

Many thefts in Middlesex County fall under the definition of theft as a third-degree offense. A theft fits into this category if the value of the property taken is between $500 and $75,000 or if the property is taken directly from the body of another. When property is taken off the person of another the offense is no longer simply a property offense but more like what jurisdictions refer to as robbery.

A theft will also be considered a third-degree offense when the individual involved takes a motor vehicle, gun, boat, pet, horse, airplane, or a controlled substance weighing less than one kilogram. or Finally, someone embezzling an amount less than $50,000 would also qualify.

Theft of certain other property specified in the statute will fall into the third-degree category. Such property includes Social Security benefits, prescription drug blanks and animal research specimens.

Consequences of Conviction

Those convicted of third-degree theft face up to $15,000 in fines and three to five years of imprisonment. The most serious category of theft offenses, classified as second-degree crimes, involve:         

  • Property worth more than $75,000          
  • Extortion         
  • Controlled substances in excess of one kilogram        
  • Theft of human remains          
  • Embezzlement where the amount exceeds $50,000

Penalties for theft treated as a second-degree crime include five to ten years in prison and a fine as high as $150,000. A Middlesex County theft lawyer could mitigate the penalties that person could face.

Getting Help From a Middlesex Theft Attorney

The above description is only a sample of the New Jersey laws that apply to theft. State laws contain specialized statutes governing theft of specific materials such as scrap metal as well as theft in specific circumstances such as the use of minors in the commission of auto theft. Moreover, the laws allow those suffering from theft losses to seek restitution in civil court and recover court costs and other expenses, making a theft conviction can be extremely costly.

When you work with a Middlesex County theft lawyer who understands how local courts have treated theft offenses in different circumstances, you can find satisfaction in knowing that you are taking steps to protect your rights and work toward the best possible outcome in your case. Call now for a free consultation to learn how their experience can work for you.