What Are the Consequences for a Property Crime Conviction?
Property crimes entail the unlawful destruction or theft of property when no threat or actual violence is taken against a person or an animal. They are some of the most common types of crimes and include larceny, theft, motor vehicle theft, burglary, vandalism, arson, and shoplifting. In 2019, law enforcement investigated nearly 7 million property crimes nationwide, and those crimes caused more than $15.8 billion in losses and damages.
Penalties for Criminal Mischief
Criminal mischief is also called vandalism. It involves the intentional and malicious destruction of another person’s property whereby the damage or property loss exceeds $100. In New Jersey, it’s the lowest level of property crime. It carries the least potential penalties of all types of property crimes, and if you are convicted of this crime in New Jersey, you may face fines of up to $500, in addition to court costs. You may be ordered to serve probation or a short jail sentence.
Third- and Fourth-degree Property Crime Penalties
Arson, theft, and motor vehicle theft convictions for third-degree and fourth-degree crimes carry jail or prison sentences, probation, and fines. If you’re convicted of a fourth-degree property crime, you may owe up to $10,000 in fines, and you may be ordered to serve a prison sentence of up to 18 months. For a third-degree property crime conviction, the court may order you to pay up to $15,000 in fines and to serve a term of up to three to five years in prison.
First- and Second-degree Property Crime Penalties
Convictions for second-degree property crimes may result in the court ordering you to pay fees of up to $150,000. You may be ordered to serve a term of up to 10 years in prison, and you may have an additional term of parole. For a first-degree property crime conviction, the court may order you to pay up to $200,000 in fines. You may be required to serve a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years.
Negotiation for a Lesser Penalty
A common strategy criminal defense lawyers use to reduce the penalties of property crime convictions is to negotiate for a lower grade of crime. If no person or animal was harmed, the court may agree to such terms. Such negotiations require the experience of a criminal defense lawyer.
Court Latitude in Sentencing Offenders for Property Crimes
The court has some latitude for sentencing offenders who are convicted of property crimes. An offender with a criminal history may receive a longer sentence. Anyone who is a violent offender may also receive a longer sentence. If an additional crime took place along with the property theft or destruction, the offender may receive a longer sentence. For example, if the offender was 20 years old at the time of the crime, and their 14-year-old sibling joined them, the 20-year-old individual may also be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Why Legal Representation Is Important
A criminal conviction for property crimes stays on an adult’s record. This conviction could have a serious impact on your ability to rent an apartment or get a job. The higher the degree of the crime, the more seriously employers, landlords, and others will regard the situation. A conviction of a second-degree property crime could make your future difficult. Working with a Morristown criminal defense lawyer helps you protect your rights and your personal and financial future. Your lawyer may use a range of strategies in your defense. Working with a criminal defense attorney also helps you understand the charges against you and the court process for trying the case.
A criminal defense attorney protects your rights, explains the legal process to you, and handles the details of the court process. If you find yourself facing property crime charges, it’s critical to understand the potential penalties and how they’ll affect the rest of your life. To schedule a consultation with our Morristown criminal defense lawyer, contact us at 973-898-0161, or complete our online form here.