What is the Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary in New Jersey?

For laypeople, the terms burglary, robbery, and theft are often used interchangeably without understanding that each term refers to a specific type of prohibited conduct. While each of these crimes does address a particular type of taking, there are clear differences in the conduct required before charges can be advanced. Furthermore, each of these crimes carries different criminal consequences. Understanding the criminal charges you face is the first step to mounting an aggressive and strategic defense.

Serious criminal charges can result in the loss of your freedom, the stigma of a felony conviction, and other consequences. If you are facing serious criminal theft, burglary, or robbery charges in New Jersey, you need experienced and aggressive legal representation. The Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can fight aggressively to protect your rights.

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How Does New Jersey Define the Crime of Theft?

Theft can take any forms including shoplifting (§ 2C:20-11), receiving stolen property (§ 2C:20-7), theft of services (§ 2C:20-8), and theft by deception (§ 2C:20-4). However, at its core, theft involves the improper taking of another person’s property or services.

Under NJSA 2C:20-2, the grading of theft offenses is set forth. Second-degree theft offenses occur when the amount 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.

Third degree theft charges are appropriate when the amount allegedly stolen is between $500 and $75,000. Furthermore, if the property 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 persons offense may be charged.

In an environment of heavy drinking, such as an Atlantic City casino, poor judgement can be exercised and crime can be committed. If you have been charged with theft by deception in an Atlantic City casino, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today to speak to an experienced theft by deception in a casino lawyer.

How is Robbery Defined Under New Jersey Law?

The crime of robbery is often confused because of its similarity to theft. Essentially, NJSA 2:15-1 states that the definition of robbery is that a theft has been committed plus some form of violence. That is, if in the course of committing a theft the actor:

  • Threatens bodily harm or places the victim in fear of immediate harm.
  • Uses force to inflict a bodily injury on the victim.
  • Threatens to commit or commits any other first or second-degree crime.

Under New Jersey law, burglary is typically charged as a second-degree crime. However first-degree charges can arise if the actor attempts to kill another person. A second-degree crime can be punished by a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Most first-degree crimes are punished by a prison sentence between 10 and 20 years.

What Constitutes Burglary in New Jersey?

For some people burglary may seem like just another synonym for theft or robbery, but the term has specific meaning under New Jersey state law. Burglary can be summarized as the unlawful entry into a dwelling or other structure for the purposes of committing a crime while inside. While breaking and entering can be included in a burglary, trespassing is enough to establish that the actor was not a permitted guest. Furthermore, while burglary can include a theft, it does not require one. Other criminal acts — like murder, manslaughter, arson, rape, and vandalism to name a few – can also result in burglary charges.

Burglary is typically charged as a third-degree crime. However, if the actor displays an actual or apparent deadly weapon or explosives a second-degree crime can be charged. Likewise, if he or she intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly inflicts or attempts to inflict serious bodily harm on another person then second-degree criminal charges are likely to be brought.

Rely on Our Experienced Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you, a close friend, or a loved one are facing theft, burglary, or robbery charges the potential consequences faced are severe. Conviction can result in the loss of your freedom, fines, and informal consequences such as reduced employment opportunities. To schedule a free criminal defense consultation call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today or contact us online.

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