Casinos use additional security staff and often have police officers on-site to help prevent crime in the casino. This means that whether you are caught by a casino security guard or a police officer, you could face charges if you are caught stealing in a casino in Atlantic City.
Many theft crimes reported in a casino involve people trying to steal casino chips. The Atlantic City lawyers for casino chip theft at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain when it is illegal to take chips from a casino and what kinds of penalties you might face for this offense. If you or a loved one was charged with stealing chips from a casino, call our attorneys today at (609) 616-4956 to set up a free legal consultation.
Is it Stealing to Take Chips from a Casino in AC?
In New Jersey, the crime of theft only applies when you take something that does not belong to you. You exchange your own money to get casino chips, which means that you paid for them and they are yours. While the casino might have the ability to ask you to exchange them back into cash or might be able to tell you what to do with your chips, to some extent, you usually can leave a casino and take your chips with you.
Many people leave casinos with chips intending to come back later, or they want to keep a few chips as a souvenir. Casino chips are usually changed out every few days, so the casino loses nothing from this and would not usually report someone taking their own chips. The same is true for slot tokens if the casino uses them.
Arrested for Stealing Casino Chips in Atlantic City
While you may be allowed to take your own casino chips, you can certainly be arrested and charged with theft for stealing someone else’s chips or trying to steal chips from the house. Casinos often have very attentive security staff, and the dealers, game operators, and pit bosses are trained to keep an eye out for casino patrons trying to take chips from someone else’s pile or trying to sneak chips out of the house’s stock of chips. In addition, casinos have cameras all over the place for additional security staff to watch for theft.
Stealing chips that belong to someone else or belong to the house is squarely considered a theft crime in New Jersey. “Theft by unlawful taking or disposition” under N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-3 is the basic theft crime that covers exercising control over someone else’s property with no intent to give it back, such as trying to sneak someone else’s chips off the table or suddenly grabbing chips from a pit boss’ stock.
Outside of a casino, chips do not have much value, but they can be taken back to a casino and cashed in. If the casino knows that certain chips were stolen, they might be able to track the serial number of the chips either by using serial numbers printed on the outside of the chip or RFID chips inside the chip. If someone turns in chips that have had their serial number flagged, they could be arrested for receiving stolen property or for committing the theft itself.
Penalties for Stealing Chips from a Casino in Atlantic City, NJ
Theft charges vary in severity based on the value of what was stolen. Although chips have no value outside of a casino, they are still counted as their face value when grading theft charges. Whether you are charged with the theft itself or receiving stolen property, the penalties are usually the same across all theft charges.
In New Jersey, criminal charges come in various levels. Disorderly persons offenses are essentially misdemeanor crimes that carry up to $1,000 in fines and up to 6 months in jail. More serious felony offenses are called indictable crimes and carry a potential of over 1 year in jail in all cases.
Courts and prosecutors determine the level of theft crime to charge based on the value of the stolen property. The level of crime changes in some cases based on what specific property was taken – such as if the stolen property was a credit card or a vehicle – but none of those rules apply to casino chips unless they can be considered an “access device.”
Theft is charged at the following levels for the corresponding value of the stolen property:
- Under $200: disorderly persons offense carrying fines up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail
- $200 or more, up to and including $500: fourth degree crime carrying fines up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison
- Over $500, but under $75,000: third degree crime carrying fines up to $15,000 and 3-5 years in prison
- $75,000 or more: second degree crime carrying fines up to $150,000 and 5-10 years in prison
In addition to these fines and jail time, you could also be made to pay restitution to return the full value of the stolen property.
If you stole the chips directly from the owner’s person, it is automatically increased to a third degree crime, even if you stole under $500. If the theft was accomplished through force or threats of violence, the crime might be upgraded to robbery, which is at least a second degree crime.
Call Our Atlantic City Casino Chip Theft Attorneys for a Free Legal Consultation
If you need legal help after being accused of stealing chips from a casino in Atlantic City, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City attorneys for casino chip theft represent those accused of theft and other casino crimes and fight to get their charges dropped and dismissed and get the penalties reduced. For a free legal consultation on your case, call us at (609) 616-4956 today.