It does not matter how minor a charge for theft is, a conviction for theft or shoplifting can negatively impact your future. Theft charges can carry monetary fines, jail time, and will create a permanent criminal record that can make it difficult for you to find a job, and may even wholly preclude you from applying to certain positions. If you or a loved one has been charged with theft in Cape May County, do not wait to contact an experienced Cape May theft defense attorney from the Law Offices of John J. Zarych.
However you don’t have to face these difficult circumstances alone. The criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych have more than 45 years of combined legal practice experience. When you work with one of our theft attorneys in Cape May, you can expect personalized attention and clear and concise answers to your questions about the potential consequences of the charges you face. And when it comes time for a court appearance or legal filings for your matter, you can expect a strategic and aggressive defense of your rights. Call for a free consultation and (609) 616-4956.
Different Theft Offenses in Cape May, NJ
Being charged with theft in Cape May can be more complex than you might think, and the laws for theft in New Jersey are nuanced and expansive. The state’s theft laws cover everything from theft of services, credit card theft, identity theft, to shoplifting. The key that distinguishes the degrees of theft in New Jersey is the value of the property involved. As a potential defendant in a Cape May theft case, it is important to understand the implications of these degrees and their potential penalties. General theft charges are addressed in section N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which reads:
A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, movable property of another with the purpose to deprive him thereof.
A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully transfers any interest in immovable property of another with the purpose to benefit himself or another not entitled thereto.
When the prosecutor is making a determination as to a theft charge they will look chiefly at the value of the property involved, however, they will also consider whether or not certain items were stolen, and if there were any controlled dangerous substances involved.
Second-Degree Theft Charges
Second-degree theft charges are the most serious theft charges and can be brought when the value of the property is valued at or above $75,000. In addition to the monetary amount that would sustain a charge of second-degree theft, a person can be charged with second-degree theft if the property was taken by extortion, or when the property is a controlled substance in excess of one kilogram. Additionally, the New Jersey legislature has made it a second-degree offense for theft of another’s federal or state health care benefits in the amount of $75,000 or more.
A person may face second-degree theft charges in New Jersey if any of the following are alleged:
- 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.
Third-Degree Theft Charges
Third-degree theft charges in Cape May are less serious than second-degree charges and are filed when the property value is lower than a second-degree charge. The range of property values that will support a charge of third-degree theft ranges from $75,000 to as low as $500, thus making this category of theft is quite expansive. In addition, certain items of property will support a third-degree charge including a: firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, airplane, horse, or domestic companion animal. As with second-degree theft, a controlled substance will also support a third-degree charge if the value of the substance is less than $75,000. In addition, certain acts of theft will allow a prosecutor to bring a third-degree charge such as if the property is taken directly from the victim, or if the person was acting as a fiduciary, or when the property was taken by threat.
A person may face third-degree theft charges if any of the following are 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.
Fourth-Degree Theft Charges
A fourth-degree theft charge has a much smaller monetary range than the previous two charges and applies when the amount of property involved is between $500 and $200.
Disorderly persons offenses have the smallest range for property value and will be charged when the amount is less than $200.
Criminal Penalties for Theft in Cape May, NJ
Theft charges can result in serious criminal consequences. However, because theft is considered a non-violent crime an experienced Cape May theft defense attorney can often negotiate a deal that does not involve having a criminal conviction or a criminal record. However ever matter is unique and must be considered on its own merit. The maximum criminal consequences one can face for a theft conviction or guilty plea includes:
- Theft of under $200 — At this level theft is considered a disorderly persons offense. It can be punished with up to six months in jail.
- Theft of $200 to $500 – This level of theft can result in charges for a fourth-degree crime. A fourth degree crime can be punished by up to 18 months in prison.
- Theft of $500 to $75,000 – Theft that falls in this range is a third-degree crime that, upon conviction, can be punished by up to 5 years in a New Jersey state prison.
- Theft in excess of $75,000 – Beyond $75,000 theft is considered a second-degree crime and can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
Not to mention you are looking at serious prison time, potential civil penalties, and a permanent criminal record which may render you unable to maintain or even apply for certain jobs in the future. And if you are not a U.S. citizen, you may find yourself facing deportation for even a minor theft conviction.
When the theft is by an employee from an employer, this theft is known as embezzlement. While embezzlement schemes often involve skimming small amounts of money over a long period of time, the total amount allegedly stolen can quickly accrue. When an employee is accused of embezzling more than $75,000, second-degree criminal charges can be advanced. The consequences of theft charges can vary significantly. However it is wise to work with a criminal attorney for theft charges in Cape May to avoid unnecessary damage to your reputation and to protect you from harsh criminal consequences.
Reducing the Consequences of Theft Crimes through the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI)
Individuals accused of theft crimes Cape May are often prime candidates for New Jersey’s Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). The PTI program will remove your matter from New Jersey Superior Court to focus on rehabilitative endeavors. Those accepted into the program will typically participate in community service and other activities intended to rehabilitate. Upon successful completion of the PTI program, the theft charge will be dismissed. The timeframe for the dismissal can vary, but it is typically between six months and three years. While the program may be appropriate for a one-time reprieve from criminal theft consequences, repeat offenders are not typically eligible for the program.
What Kinds of Cape May Theft Charges Do We Defend Against?
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Cape May theft defense lawyers are dedicated to aggressive client advocacy, no matter how complex or serious the charges may be. We will fight hard to defend your liberties and will leave no stone unturned when examining the evidence against you.
With over 45 years of collective experience representing those in Cape May we have gained a wealth of experience in all theft offenses 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
Do not make the mistake by thinking that a minor theft charge is something that you do not need to worry about. Even a minor charge can carry penalties and will leave you with a permanent record.
Work with Our Cape May, NJ Theft Defense Attorneys in a Free Consultation
Criminal consequences aside, theft charges or a theft conviction can have a devastating effect on one’s reputation and ability to earn a living. When you consider the formal criminal consequences in additional to the informal consequences, only then will the true cost and extent of a theft conviction become clear. In short, facing criminal charges for theft, petty theft, burglary, or robbery can have life-altering consequences.
The Cape May theft defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych understand the consequences a criminal conviction can cause and take a results-oriented approach to representation at the outset of every matter. To schedule a private and free consultation with our Cape May criminal lawyers about your criminal theft charge, call us toll-free at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.