What is Joyriding in New Jersey?


Joyriding Lawyers in Edison NJ

The offense of joyriding in New Jersey can cost you both your financial and personal freedom. This is because the offense, also referred to as Unlawful Taking Means of Conveyance under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11, is more often than not filed as an indictable crime. Such crimes open you up to a state prison term of up to 18 months and a $10,000 fine at the furthest end of the sentencing range. Considering the seriousness of a joyriding charge, you should not delay in seeking defense counsel from an experienced criminal lawyer. If you would like a free consultation from a dedicated Middlesex County criminal defense attorney serving clients charged with joyriding in towns such as New Brunswick, Piscataway, Edison, East Brunswick, Plainsboro, Woodbridge, Metuchen, and Monroe, please contact our office at (732) 659-9600. The below provides you with a better understanding of what joyriding means and the possible penalties for unlawfully taking and using someone else’s car in New Jersey.

New Jersey Joyriding Charges, Are they the Same as Auto Theft?

According to New Jersey criminal law, theft and joyriding are two separate offenses. If you are wondering whether motor vehicle theft and joyriding are equivalent offenses, they are not the same. An allegation of theft requires the state to prove that you took something of value without permission with the intention of permanently removing it from the owner’s possession. Joyriding, on the other hand, does not require a showing that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of the object. Joyriding is the taking of or exercising control over a car, moped, or other means of conveyance temporarily without permission from the owner. The distinction may seem minor but the sentencing disparity between 3rd degree theft of a motor vehicle and joyriding is significant.

Depending on the particulars of the case, joyriding may be filed as a fourth degree indictable offense or a non-felony disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor). Fourth degree offenses occur when a person takes a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner, whereas disorderly persons offenses apply if it is alleged that you took any “means of conveyance” aside from a motor vehicle. This is where the term “unlawful taking means of conveyance” comes in. Anything that can get you from point A to point B can be considered a means of conveyance, subjecting you to a criminal disorderly persons offense. For instance, taking such items as bicycles, skateboards, surfboards, skimobiles, trailers, trains, airplanes, horses, boats, and motorized bicycles allow for the charging of a disorderly persons offense.

Can you go to Jail for Joyriding in Middlesex County?

A joyriding offense can be a fourth degree crime or a disorderly persons offense. Generally, joyriding offenses require less time in jail than third degree theft charges. Wondering how much time you can get for unauthorized use of a vehicle or other means of conveyance? For disorderly persons offenses, the court can sentence you to jail for up to 6 months, fines up to $1000, and mandatory penalties of $125 plus court costs and fees. The offense is placed on a summons and is eventually heard in municipal court. While the judge in this court does not have to send you to jail, the maximum sentence includes a term of 6 months in the local county jail. For felony crimes, the jail time can be served in either the county facility or state prison.

Fourth degree felony charges for joyriding can be placed on a warrant or summons and are forwarded to the County Superior Court where the offense allegedly occurred. If the alleged offender is a juvenile, the case will be heard in the Superior Court as well, except that for juveniles, the case is presided over by a Family Court Judge, not heard in adult criminal or municipal court. If you are charged with 4th degree joyriding as an adult anywhere in Middlesex County, or you are a juvenile accused of unlawfully using someone else’s vehicle and your primary residence is in Middlesex County, then your case will be handled in the Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick.

For fourth degree charges, adults can be sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment and as much as five years’ probation. Additionally, adults face up to $10,00 in fines. Unless you have no criminal record, there is a possibility that you will be sentenced to state prison if convicted. However, alternatives like Pre-Trial Intervention are available to get the charges completely dismissed if you have no convictions in your past.

Worst case scenario, the crime can be a third degree felony as well. A third degree charge will only be filed if you allegedly took a motor vehicle and created a risk of injury or death. Upon conviction for a third degree indictable offense, the allowable prison time is 3-5 years and $15,000 in fines are a possibility.

Unlawfully Using Another Person’s Vehicle in NJ – Mandatory Sentencing for Repeat Offenses

Joyriding offenses, whether committed by adults, drivers, passengers, or juveniles, require jail time for repeat offenses. Juveniles who commit the offense combined with aggravated assault are required to spend 60 days in the juvenile detention facility. Similarly, adults committing a second offense should expect to go to jail for a minimum of 30 days upon conviction. Additionally, the court must suspend your license for a minimum of one year following conviction. Of course, there are ways that attorneys can get around jail time and felony convictions but it all depends on the individual circumstances and the quality of your defense approach.

Need a Lawyer for New Brunswick Joyriding Case

People who do not understand the consequences of a plea to joyriding or any other offense put themselves in jeopardy. Whether you at risk of losing your job, housing, driving privileges, or your very liberty itself, now is the time to seek help from a respected criminal defense attorney. At our Middlesex County criminal law firm, our lawyers are in a unique position to work toward the best solution in your case, as we understand what the prosecutor is hoping to accomplish and how they attempt apply the facts to the law. Knowing and understanding the entire criminal legal process and the nuances of joyriding charges allows us to carve out unique solutions that meet your needs.

At the outset, we see if a dismissal is possible based on an extensive examination of the evidence against you. In the absence of a specific defense challenge, your case may call for a downgrade from an indictable crime to a disorderly persons offense or even lower yet, a violation of a municipal ordinance. With real world experience defending clients charged with unlawful taking and vehicle theft, along with other crimes such as eluding a police officerobstruction of law, and hindering apprehension in Middlesex County and across New Jersey, our defense team is here to help. Call (732) 659-9600 now for more information. Our lawyers are available anytime to answer your questions and discuss how we can be of help to you and your family.

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.