Atlantic County Theft Lawyer
Theft charges in Atlantic County are not something to take lightly. Despite what some people may think, even a minor theft charge and conviction can be incredibly damaging to your future. Not only can a theft charge carry hefty fines and jail time, but it will also create a criminal record that will follow you for years to come. If you or a loved one has been charged with any degree of theft, then you need an attorney by your side.
Theft is far more than taking something that does not belong to you. Theft occurs in many different ways and encompasses a number of different criminal offenses. Theft could be a small criminal act, like shoplifting, or a largescale criminal scheme, like embezzlement. Theft charges vary from disorderly persons offenses all the way up to serious indictable crimes. Theft charges can also carry significant collateral consequences and land you with a reputation of deception and distrust.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to aggressive client advocacy, no matter how complex or serious the charges may be. Our knowledgeable legal team has over 45 years of combined experience representing both adults and juveniles, and we are proud to offer free initial consultations. For a free and private consultation, call our law offices right away at (609) 616-4956. Se habla español.
Types of Theft Offenses in Atlantic County
Theft offenses can be completed in multiple different ways. How a defendant commits a theft offense will determine what specific charges they will face. Theft does not always involve secretly taking something that does not belong to you. Theft could also be accomplished through trickery or deception, like when victims are deceived into giving their property to the defendant. Theft may also involve property that is not tangible, like services or intellectual property. Whatever your charges are, our Atlantic County theft attorneys are here to help. Below are some, but not all, of the various theft and theft-related offenses in New Jersey.
Theft By Deception
A defendant may be found guilty of theft if they purposefully obtained or received property from someone else through means of deception. There are multiple methods of deception when it comes to theft. For example, a defendant who obtains property under a false impression. A false impression could be lying about the property’s true value or claiming the property will be donated to charity when in reality, you plan to keep it.
Deception also occurs if a person prevents or hinders others from obtaining important information that might affect their judgment of the transaction. For example, preventing someone from checking stock market updates before buying their shares in a company might be theft by deception.
Even if the defendant did not create the false impression or other deceptive means, they may still be guilty of theft by deception if they know about it and do nothing to correct it.
Extortion, much like theft by deception, involves a victim willingly handing their property over the defendant. However, the defendant uses threats or intimidation to force the defendant to hand over their belongings. These threats can include threats of physical harm, threats to make false accusations, and threats to expose a secret. Extortion can include acts that are considered blackmail.
Extortion may also involve threats to withhold certain actions or things the victim needs to force them to cooperate. For example, a defendant could threaten to withhold actions as a legal or political official. For example, a mayor may threaten not to sign a local bill into law unless the victim pays them a bribe. A defendant could also be charged for threatening to initiate a boycott if their demands are not met or threatening to testify or withhold testimony in a legal proceeding.
The key element of extortion is the harm to the defendant is hypothetical. A victim need not actually suffer harm from the defendant’s threats for the defendant to be charged.
Theft of Lost Property
When property is lost or mislaid, another person may come along, pick it up, and decide to keep it. However, if that person knows who the property’s true owner is and does not return it, or at least make efforts to return it, they have committed theft if they decide to keep it. For example, if your neighbor drops an envelope full of cash, and the envelope is marked with your neighbor’s name and address, keeping it would be an act of theft because you know who the money truly belongs to.
Theft of Services
Tangible goods are not the only kinds of property subject to theft. A defendant may be charged with theft of services for stealing the services or labor of another. Theft of services often involves accepting services you know are available only in exchange for payment. Once services are complete and payment is due, the defendant might flee without paying or lie to avoid paying. For example, when people book hotels, payment is typically due at the end of their stay. However, if a person leaves the hotel without paying, they may be guilty of theft of services.
Shoplifting is one of the most common theft offenses and can be completed in various ways. Shoplifting can involve secretly removing merchandise from a retail store without paying or using deceptive practices to avoid paying.
Perhaps the most widely known form of shoplifting involves sneakily removing and concealing merchandise before leaving a store without paying. For example, a defendant who discretely slips a bracelet in their purse in a jewelry store may be charged with shoplifting.
Shoplifting also involves methods of underpaying or not paying the full price of the merchandise. This is common at self-checkout stations where a defendant could ring up a grocery item as something cheaper and avoid paying full price.
Embezzlement is not actually a separate offense under New Jersey laws and is often charged under the statute for theft by unlawful taking. Embezzlement is a white-collar crime and often occurs within a business or corporate setting. The defendant is usually someone who works for the business but could also be a person in charge of the business, like an owner, manager, or CEO. The offense involves the defendant stealing money or property that they were put in charge of.
In most cases, embezzlement happens when an employee is put in charge of company funds or property and is responsible for directing the use of those funds. The employee then steals some of the funds or property and uses their position within the company to conceal their actions. For example, a person in charge of the budget for office supplies might secretly embezzle money from the budget and then falsify purchase records to hide their actions.
Degrees of Theft in Atlantic County
Theft in New Jersey is equivalent to larceny in many other states and is a very common charge. New Jersey theft laws are quite expansive and cover everything from shoplifting to auto theft to computer crimes and embezzlement. For most of these offenses, the potential charges depend on the amount of money the stolen property is worth.
A person may face second-degree theft charges in New Jersey if any of the following facts are alleged by the prosecutor:
- The amount involved is $75,000 or more.
- The property was taken by extortion.
- The stolen property is a controlled substance in excess of 1 kilogram.
- The stolen property is a person’s federal or state health care benefits, and the amount is $75,000 or more.
- The stolen property is human remains.
A person may face third-degree theft charges if any of the following is alleged:
- The amount involved is less than $75,000 but more than $500.
- The stolen property is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, airplane, horse, or domestic companion animal.
- The property stolen is a controlled substance, and the value is less than $75,000 (or undetermined), and the quantity is 1 kilogram or less.
- The property is directly taken from a victim.
- The theft is a breach of an obligation by a person who is acting as a fiduciary.
- The property is taken by threat that does not qualify as extortion.
- The property taken is a public record, writing, or instrument.
- The property stolen is a person’s federal or state health care benefits, and the amount involved is less than $75,000.
- The stolen property is related to research (such as samples, specimens, animals being used for research, records, data or test
- results, prototypes, equipment, or proprietary research information).
- The stolen property is a New Jersey Prescription Blank.
- The stolen property is an access device or a defaced access device.
A person may face fourth-degree theft charges if the amount involved is not more than $500 but not less than $200. A person may also face a disorderly persons offense if the amount involved is less than $200. This is sometimes known as petty theft.
The way theft charges are assessed can be a bit confusing. Our Atlantic County theft attorneys will help you understand the charges against you and how best to fight them in court.
Types of Theft Charges We Handle in Atlantic County, New Jersey
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych we have extensive experience defending against a variety of theft charges including:
- Theft of Movable Property
- Theft by Deception
- Theft by Extortion
- Identity Theft
- Credit Card Theft
- Credit Card Fraud
- Check Fraud
- Auto Theft
- Receiving Stolen Property
- Official Misconduct
If you have been charged with one of the above offenses or an offense not listed here, call our Atlantic County theft defense lawyers for assistance.
What Are Potential Penalties of Theft Charges in New Jersey?
In addition to prison terms, a judge can impose monetary fines and civil penalties ranging from one thousand dollars to over $150,000. Similar to the gradation of offenses, the penalties for a theft charge also are graded as follows:
A person convicted of theft as a disorderly persons offense, which is the lowest graded theft offense, can be sentenced to a prison term not to exceed six months. In addition, a person convicted of a disorderly person’s offense can be sentenced to a fine not to exceed $1,000, or double the amount of monetary loss to the victim, whichever is higher.
Punishment for a theft crime of the fourth degree includes more stringent sentences than that of a disorderly persons offense and includes the potential prison sentence not to exceed 18 months. As with a disorderly persons offense a person convicted of a theft crime in the third degree can be sentenced to pay a fine that is not to exceed $10,000 or an amount double the amount of the monetary loss to the victim, whichever amount is higher.
After a conviction for theft as a third-degree crime, an offender faces imprisonment for a term from three to five years. In addition, they can face a fine not to exceed $15,000 or double the amount of monetary loss to the victim, whichever is higher.
For theft as a crime of the second degree, punishment will include imprisonment for a term from five to 10 years, and the judge is additionally free to impose a fine of up to $150,000 or double the amount of monetary loss to the victim, whichever is higher.
If you are facing charges for theft, contact our Atlantic County theft lawyers for advice and guidance.
An Atlantic County Theft Lawyer Can Help If You Are Facing Charges
Dedicated and aggressive, our theft attorneys offer results-oriented representation from the outset. Discuss your case in a free legal consultation with our team today. Contact our Atlantic County theft attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by calling (609) 616-4956. We are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays.