In New Jersey, the crime of theft is generally defined as an “unlawful taking” of someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its use or possession. There are a number of specific offenses that fall under the umbrella of theft crimes, including shoplifting, receiving stolen goods, extortion, and even theft of property delivered by mistake.
The Different Degrees of Theft Offenses in New Jersey
As in other states, the type of charge in New Jersey depends primarily on the value of the property taken:
- Disorderly persons theft crimes—If the value of the goods or services taken does not exceed $200, you will be charged with a disorderly persons offense, similar to “petty theft” in most other states. The penalties for conviction include incarceration for up to six months and a fine of not more than $1,000 or double the amount taken, whichever is higher.
- Crime in the fourth degree—If you took goods or services valued at more than $200, but less than $500, you can be convicted of a crime in the fourth degree. The penalties include up to 18 months jail time and penalties of no more than $10,000.
- Crime in the third degree—The penalties for this offense include a prison term of three tofive years and fines of either $15,000 or double the amount stolen, whichever is higher. New Jersey law specifies certain types of theft offenses as falling under this category:
- Theft of goods or services valued at more than $500, but less than $75,000
- Theft of a controlled dangerous substance (with certain limitations)
- Theft of specific types of property, including motor vehicles, firearms, horses, airplanes, boats and domestic companion animals
- Theft of property directly from a person’s body
- Theft of a prescription blank
- Crime in the second degree—This charge applies to all theft offenses where the value of goods or services is $75,000 or more. It covers all theft of controlled substances not prosecuted as a crime in the third degree, as well as extortion. If convicted of this crime, you can face five to ten years in prison and a fine of $150,000 or twice the amount stolen, whichever is higher.
Contact Gregg A. Wisotsky, Partner at Javerbaum, Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins, PC
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