Top Things to Know if You Have Been Charged with Theft in NJ

thief stealing bag from the car

There are a surprisingly high number of laws criminalizing different types of theft in New Jersey. These laws have similarities and differences but in terms of the broadest way to distinguish theft charges, they fit into one of two categories: disorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses. There are key distinctions between how a disorderly persons charge for theft is handled in the court system versus an indictable (felony) offense. In addition, the consequences of the various degrees of felony theft charges are much more extensive when compared with the disorderly persons offenses. Here is what you should know about the various types of theft charges and what you may face if convicted.

If you or a loved one has been accused of theft in Ocean County or elsewhere in New Jersey, it is critical to obtain legal guidance from an experienced attorney. The talented team of criminal defense lawyers at our firm represent clients facing many different types of theft charges in local courts in Toms River, Berkeley Township, Seaside Heights, Lacey, Long Beach Twp, Stafford, Eagleswood, Jackson, and Manchester. Contact our office in Point Pleasant at (848) 238-2100 if you would like to discuss your theft case with a lawyer who can help. Our team is available day and night to provide you with a free consultation.

Types of Theft Charges You May Face in Ocean County

New Jersey laws prohibit various ways of taking things that belong to someone else. These laws all generally criminalize taking someone else’s movable or immovable property without their consent. For example, a specific statute criminalizes taking property by means of extortion or blackmail. Another law criminalizes stealing through deception, which essentially means misleading someone into letting you take their property without their true consent. Yet another statute criminalizes shoplifting, which involves taking items from a store or changing the price tags on objects in a store to create your own discount, among other types of conduct. It is also illegal to knowingly receive or buy stolen property.

Additionally, it is illegal to steal services, for example, accepting labor or other services that you know require payment and then refusing to pay for them. It is illegal to keep property that you know was delivered to you by mistake, including packages addressed to another person and the like. And that’s not all. There are many other theft statutes on the books, from auto theft, right down to theft by keeping library property after the due date.

Is Theft of Felony in New Jersey?

All theft charges generally boil down into two categories: disorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses. Whether your crime is categorized as a less severe disorderly persons offense or a more serious, felony-level indictable crime generally depends on the value of the property that you have taken or kept without permission, and in certain cases, the actual type of property involved.

Generally speaking, theft of an item under $200 in value will result in a disorderly persons offense charge, for which you face up to six months in jail. Theft of items over $200 but under in value $500 in value is a fourth degree indictable offense—the lowest degree of indictable offense, but still a serious charge that can expose you to up to 18 months in prison. Theft of items worth over $500 will be charged as third degree indictable offense, punishable by 3-5 years in state prison. Lastly, theft of items worth over $75,000 commonly result in second degree indictable offense charges. These punishments are particularly harsh, including up to 10 years of incarceration.

Charged With Theft in Toms River, Where Will My Case Be Heard?

Disorderly persons charges involving theft are handled in New Jersey’s municipal court system. Indictable offense theft charges are handled in Superior Court. It is generally preferable to have your case handled in municipal court, as your exposure to penalties is significantly less than in superior court. It may be an option to obtain a downgraded charge and have your case transferred back to municipal court in certain instances.

Who Can Fight for the Best Outcome in My Theft Case?

If you are seeking highly experienced defense for theft charges in Ocean County or elsewhere in New Jersey, you came to the right place. Call (848) 238-2100 for help with your theft charge now from a lawyer at our firm, or reach out to us online and schedule a free consultation at our local office in Point Pleasant.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.