The laws of New Jersey distinguish between many different theft offenses. Some are graded as disorderly persons or “DP” offenses, which are similar to misdemeanors. Others are indictable crimes, which are equivalent to felonies. Even a misdemeanor can result in heavy fines and months in jail, while a felony conviction can lead to years or decades in prison. No matter what sort of offense you’ve been charged with, it’s a serious matter that demands immediate attention from a skilled and knowledgeable defense attorney.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our passionate legal team brings more than 45 years of combined experience to each and every criminal case we handle. When you work with our attorneys, you can expect an aggressive, strategic, and comprehensive approach to the charges against you. We will walk you through each and every stage of the legal process, vigorously defend your Constitutional rights, and seek to have the charges dismissed or reduced. We are proud to represent the people of Brigantine and the surrounding area, including the A-Zone blocks, South-End, North-End, Seapointe, and the Sea Wall.
To schedule a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call our law offices right away at (609) 616-4956. The sooner you reach out to our defense lawyers, the sooner we can begin reviewing your case and exploring your legal options. We represent both adults and juveniles. Se habla español.
What is Considered Theft in Brigantine, NJ?
Like with most crimes in the state of New Jersey, the crime of theft can be charged at a number of levels of severity. The degree of charges an accused faces is based on the severity of the offense. For theft offenses it is based on the amount allegedly improperly converted or stolen. The levels of theft and the maximum punishments one can face are:
- Theft valued at more than $75,000 – As a second-degree indictable offense, theft at this level can be punished by up to 10 years in state prison.
- Theft valued between $500 and $75,000 – With such a broad range and inflation increasing the paper value of many items, many thefts are prosecuted at this level as a third-degree crime. Upon conviction a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in prison can be imposed
- Theft valued between $200 and $500 – As a fourth-degree crime, theft at this grade can be punished by up to 18 months in prison.
- Theft valued at less than $200 – Theft of this type is a disorderly persons offense. It can be punished by a prison sentence of up to six months.
There are certain special types of theft that are defined by the conduct of the individual. One of these types of theft is known as embezzlement. Embezzlement occurs when a theft is committed in an employer-employee relationship. The employee may allegedly steal small amounts of money over a long period of time or a large lump sum once.
How are Theft, Burglary and Robbery Defined in Brigantine, NJ?
Theft is often conflated with burglary and robbery. While all of these offenses involve stealing, they are actually separate crimes which have different definitions and criminal penalties. As a defendant, or the loved one of a defendant, it’s important for you to have a good understanding of the allegations against you or your loved one.
Burglary, which is addressed by N.J.S.A. § 2C:18-2, is charged when a person enters a building or property with intent to commit a crime while inside. This includes residential homes, apartment buildings, businesses, and all other property which is not open to the public. Though generally charged as a third degree crime, burglary becomes a second degree crime when the defendant is armed with or displays a weapon, including imitations of weapons, like fake guns. It is also a second degree crime if the defendant recklessly or intentionally injures or attempts to injure someone.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:5-5, it is also illegal to make or possess burglary tools. Virtually anything can be a burglary tool, as long as it is “adapted, designed or commonly used for” breaking and entering. However, a vital element of this charge is that the defendant knew the item was a burglary tool.
Robbery, which is addressed by N.J.S.A. § 2C:15-1, is charged when a person commits a theft which also involves one of the following elements:
- Using force.
- Injuring someone.
- Threatening someone, or putting them in fear for their immediate safety.
- Committing or threatening to commit any first or second degree crime, including murder, sexual assault, and kidnapping.
Though typically graded as a second degree crime, robbery can become a first degree crime – the most serious type of felony – if during the theft, the defendant:
- Tries to kill someone.
- Causes or tries to cause serious bodily injury.
- Is armed with a weapon, or threatens to use a weapon.
How are Burglary and Robbery Charges Specifically Different?
While it is not uncommon for individuals in general conversation to use these terms imprecisely or interchangeably, they have a distinct legal meaning. Burglary can only be charged when a person enters onto a property without authorization to commit further offenses. For instance, an individual who breaks into his or her workplace after hours to steal research materials for a competitor has committed burglary.
In contrast to burglary, robbery is more similar to standard theft charges. That is, robbery requires the commission of a theft plus the threat or actual use of force to facilitate the theft. In essence, theft is a lesser included offense of robbery. If the threat or actual use of force involves a weapon, then first degree criminal charges can be advance against the accused. A first-degree indictable offense in New Jersey, similar to a first-degree felony in other jurisdictions, can be punished by up to 20 years in state prison.
Common Theft Charges and Criminal Penalties: Shoplifting, Identity Theft, Extortion
If an act of stealing does not meet the specific definitions of burglary or robbery, it is a form of theft, which is also known as larceny in other jurisdictions. (For instance, you may have heard the terms “grand larceny” or “petit larceny.”) Thus, theft is far broader in scope than burglary or robbery. It can involve stealing a physical object, such as money or clothing, or stealing something intangible, such as cable TV or another person’s identity.
Listed below are some common charges and the relevant statutes:
N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-3 (Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition) – Involves stealing or transferring interest in movable or immovable property. The elements of theft include “unlawfully tak[ing], or exercis[ing] unlawful control over” the object with intent to “deprive [the rightful owner] thereof.”
N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-4 (Theft by Deception) – Involves creating any “false impression” for financial gain, including pretending to represent a charity or business. This extends to hiding accurate information from another person.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-5 (Theft by Extortion) – Extortion involves threatening, blackmailing, injuring, or otherwise harming another person.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-7 (Receiving Stolen Property) – A crucial element of this charge is that the recipient knew (or had good reason to know) the item received was stolen.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-8 (Theft of Services) – “Services” include internet, cable, gas, electricity, water, and any labor or professional service.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:20-11 (Shoplifting) – Also known as retail theft, shoplifting involves stealing property from a business. You can also be charged with shoplifting for altering or removing a price tag, or for stealing a shopping cart.
N.J.S.A. §2C:21-17 (Impersonation, Theft of Identity) – Identity theft involves impersonating another person or assuming a false identity for the sake of financial gain or obtaining a service.
Theft, robbery, and burglary charges range from DP offenses to high-level felonies, depending on the circumstances. For instance, theft under $200 is a DP offense, while theft over $75,000 is a second degree crime. Defendants who are convicted in New Jersey face the following maximum penalties:
- First Degree Crime
- Sentence – Up to 20 years
- Fine – Up to $200,000
- Second Degree Crime
- Sentence – Up to 10 years
- Fine – Up to $150,000
- Third Degree Crime
- Sentence – Up to 5 years
- Fine – Up to $15,000
- Fourth Degree Crime
- Sentence – Up to 18 months
- Fine – Up to $10,000
- DP Offense
- Sentence – Up to 6 months
- Fine – Up to $1,000
Our Brigantine Theft Defense Attorneys Can Help
Facing criminal charges is a difficult situation that no individual would wish to find him or herself. For some first-time offenders, New Jersey’s Pretrial Intervention program can permit the individual to focus on rehabilitation rather than the criminal justice process and punishment. In other circumstances, PTI may be unavailable due to previous convictions, previous participation in the program, or the nature of the offense. In circumstances like these, you will likely be presented with a plea deal. Understanding whether the deal is appropriate for your circumstances can be greatly aided through the guidance and assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
If you or your child has been arrested for stealing in Brigantine or the surrounding area, you need an experience and aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side in court. To set up a free, completely private legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today.