Atlantic County Robbery Defense Attorney
Theft and robbery are very serious criminal allegations and often are charged at the same time. There is some confusion between these two charges. However, not as confusing is the result of being convicted of either of these crimes, which can lead to hard and potentially lengthy prison sentences and steep penalties. Not only is there the threat of incarceration, but in addition restitution payments can be a major concern for any person who is facing a robbery or theft charge.
The bottom line is that if you’ve been charged with theft or robbery in Atlantic County, it is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Are Theft and Robbery the Same Charge?
The court system is confusing; there are different words and different terms that may seem foreign to you. Even more confusing for some, is that the terms that are used in the courthouse and the words that are used on the street can be vastly different. One example are the crimes of theft and robbery. While on the street these words are often used interchangeably, under the law, however, these words have completely different meanings. Under the New Jersey criminal code, theft and robbery have their own separate elements and are distinct crimes from each other. This means that a person may be independently charged with either theft or robbery, or they may be charged with both. Generally, robbery as defined by the New Jersey statutory code 2C:15-1 is charged in instances where the defendant causes injury, uses force, or makes threats to the victim during the course of theft.
By contrast, theft, as opposed to robbery, is much broader and simply means that the defendant unlawfully took some object from the victim. Notably, theft is not excluded to theft of physical items, but because it is a broad statute can include things such as theft of a service, or of a person’s identity.
Under 2C:20-3a of the New Jersey Code, if the alleged theft deals with movable property, such as a piece of clothing or electronic equipment for example, then the state must prove that the stolen object “was moved or taken from its original location,” and that the defendant’s intention was to “deprive the owner” of the property.
Identity theft according to 2C:21-17, requires that before a defendant can be found guilty the state must prove that he or she:
- Assumed a false identity for personal gain.
- Impersonated another person in order to receive a service or avoid paying for a service.
- Pretended to represent a person or organization in order to receive a service.
- Took and used someone else’s personal identifying information, without consent, for the sake of personal gain, avoiding a debt, or avoiding prosecution.
For a person to be charged and convicted or robbery according to the statutory definition set forth in 2C:15-1, the state will have to prove that, in the course of committing a theft, the defendant:
(1) Inflicted bodily injury or used force upon another; or
(2) Threatened another with or purposely put him in fear of immediate bodily injury, or
(3) Committed or threatened immediately to commit any crime of the first or second degree.
The first sentence of this statute requires that the state proves all of the elements of theft, which may be confusing, because as mentioned earlier these crimes are distinct. However, it is the force element of robbery that distinguishes it from theft.
New Jersey Robbery and Theft Penalties
Criminal penalties can be steep and can impact your life a lot longer than the prison sentence. Under 2C:15-1, robbery is usually a crime of the second degree. Being charged and convicted of a second-degree crime in New Jersey can mean that the judge can impose a term in prison anywhere between five to 10 years. In addition, if a person is convicted of a second-degree crime of robbery, they may face a very burdensome maximum fine of $150,000. However, robbery can be charged in the first degree if the defendant:
- Deliberately attempts to kill someone.
- Deliberately inflicts (or tries to inflict) serious physical injury.
Is armed with or threatens to use a deadly weapon.
If a person is charged and convicted of a first-degree crime in New Jersey they may face a basic prison sentence between 10 and 20 years or between 20, 25 or 30 years and even life for certain crimes, such as murder. The court can also fine the person convicted of a first-degree crime up to $200,000.
Under NJSA 2C:20-2 for theft, a person may be charged with theft in the second-degree. Second-degree theft offenses occur when the amount was stolen is greater than $75,000 or under the following circumstances:
- The theft is accomplished through extortion.
- The stolen property is a controlled substance of at least one kilogram.
- A breach of fiduciary duty where the loss is at least $50,000
- The property stolen is human remains.
In addition, theft can be charged in the third degree. These theft charges are appropriate when the amount allegedly was stolen is between $500 and $75,000. Furthermore, if the property in question is stolen from the person of the victim, the theft is accomplished due to a threat, or if the property is a motor vehicle or other forms of property then third-degree theft charges are likely appropriate. Fourth-degree charges can be filed if the theft was between $200 but no more than $500. For thefts of less than $200, a disorderly person offense may be charged. Possible penalties for a theft conviction could include:
DP Offense — Fine of up to $1,000, sentence of up to six months.
4th Degree Crime — Fine of up to $10,000, sentence of up to 18 months.
3rd Degree Crime — Fine of up to $15,000, sentence of up to five years.
2nd Degree Crime — Fine of up to $150,000, sentence of up to 10 years.
Both of these charges carry severe penalties that may impact your life for years to come. Having a criminal record can make it hard to find a job, an apartment, or even receive a credit card.
Contact an Atlantic City Criminal Lawyer if You Were Charged with Robbery
If you or someone you love is facing a robbery or theft charge in Atlantic County, it is critically important to have experienced legal representation on your side. Contact our theft lawyers about your case today by calling (609) 616-4956. We are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays.