Linden Theft Attorney
The crime of theft can be a petty offense involving items of minimal value or it can be a serious crime causing tens of thousands of dollars in losses. In Linden and throughout the state of New Jersey, the grading of theft offenses is largely dependent on the value of the items taken or received. Logically, the punishment will fit the crime in that, as the value of the stolen items increases, so too does the degree of the crime and the severity of the potential sentence. Read the information below for an overview of general theft offenses for which you may be arrested in Linden, New Jersey, the grading and punishment for such offenses, and the important distinctions between cases heard in Linden Municipal Court versus Union County Superior Court. If you would like to discuss your specific charges with an experienced Linden theft defense lawyer who can answer your questions, address your concerns, and explain your possible options, contact our local office at (908) 838-0150 today. Consultations are absolutely free and available 24/7.
Facing Theft Charges in Linden, New Jersey
In its most basic form, theft is a crime of deceit and opportunity. Often, people committing crimes of theft find themselves in situations that they did not anticipate and commit such acts out of desperation. For example, maybe you lost your job and cannot pay for groceries or perhaps you are suffering from withdrawal due to drug dependency issues and need money for drugs. No matter what the reason is for the theft, one commonality among all theft offenses is that if you are caught, you will likely be arrested and forced to pay the proverbial piper for associated damages and monetary losses if convicted. If there is any question in your mind that the law is applied to everyone, just read the headlines pertaining to the former police officer who was sentenced to state prison for theft related offenses in Linden. The former Union County officer was convicted of theft and theft by deception for repeatedly purchasing items at Target in Linden at a lower price than advertised. Specifically, the prosecutor alleged that the officer switched barcodes with the intention of paying less than the advertised retail value. The true cost of his discount was handed to him by the judge after he was convicted. In fact, he was sentenced to spend the next 3 years in state prison. This is a steep price to pay for items that had a trivial value of $650. The fact is that the law in New Jersey is designed to punish those who take things that do not belong to them or are deceitful in obtaining items belonging to others.
Theft in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3
There are numerous types of theft offenses but generally, when we refer to theft under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3, the prosecutor alleges that a person commit theft if he:
- Takes tangible property that does not belong to him or controls the property with the intention of keeping it from the true owner or;
- Takes or transfers “immovable” property with the intention of benefiting himself or anyone other than the true owner.
While the theft statute is relatively broad, in court, there are examples that occur more frequently. For instance, people who have been charged with theft crimes may have taken items such as cars, money, jewelry, checks, cell phones, items listed for sale, bicycles, electronics, property titles, and vehicle titles. Anything that can be assigned a monetary value can be the basis of a theft charge in Linden and anywhere else in Union County and New Jersey.
Theft offenses under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4
Another common form of theft is theft by deception. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, a person commits this crime when he:
- Attempts to take money by creating the false impression that the amount collected is for charity or charitable purpose;
- Does something to disguise any fact that would impact the judgment of the person on the other end of the transaction; and
- Does not correct the misunderstanding or impression given to the other person during the course of the deceitful transaction.
Degrees of Theft Crimes in Linden NJ
As noted, the degrees of the crimes depend upon the amounts proven to have been taken. If you are arrested for theft in Linden and you have received a notice for Linden Municipal Court, this means that you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense. These types of offenses are charged if the amount alleged to have been taken is less than $200. Here, the Linden Municipal Judge has the authority to send you to the county jail for 6 months and order you to pay full restitution and a $1,000 fine. A conviction can also create issues for immigration status if you are not a current U.S. citizen, as theft is a crime of moral turpitude in New Jersey.
On the other hand, the crime of theft can be charged as an indictable felony offense if the amount taken is alleged to be $200 or more. For indictable crimes committed in Linden, these cases will be heard in Union County Superior Court located in nearby Elizabeth. The indictable crimes and corresponding penalties are as follows:
- Second degree theft: The proven value of the items taken must be $75,000 or more: If convicted, you can be sentenced to 5-10 years in state prison and be ordered to pay a $150,000 fine and full restitution for the amount taken.
- Third degree theft: The proven value of the items taken must be between $500 and $75,000. If found guilty, you could be behind bars for the next 3-5 years and be forced to pay the restitution, plus as much as $15,000 in fines.
- Fourth degree theft: The value of the items taken must be between $200 and $500. If convicted, the judge can sentence you to a maximum of 18 months in state prison and order you to pay a fine of $10,000.
If you have been charged with one of the above theft crimes, you are obligated to attend several hearings in Union County Superior Court. This can be a scary process for people new to the criminal arena, as well as for those with some experience. We can help from the very beginning of your case and take the pressure off by advocating for you as early as your arrest and first appearance. You deserve the best defense representation possible, and we are here to help.
Can a Theft Case in Linden be Dismissed?
No matter whether you are charged with a disorderly persons offense or an indictable crime, you have the right to have a trial. At a trial, the prosecutor has the burden of proving you guilty. You do not have to prove your innocence, but the state must prove that you committed the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Our attorneys have experience trying theft cases and will leave no stone unturned when challenging the proofs presented by the state. Of course, we also understand that not everyone wants a trial and some people simply want to put the matter behind them as quickly as possible. Toward that end, we can seek dismissal, Pre-Trial Intervention admission, a conditional dismissal, or an agreeable plea deal that is favorable to you. We have the experience and the background to assist in whatever your decision may be. For a free consultation regarding your unique situation, contact our Linden theft attorneys at (908) 838-0150 or reach out online now.