One reason you may need a criminal lawyer in Elizabeth, NJ is that someone is accusing you of theft. While theft may not seem like the most serious crime, there are different levels of theft and the consequences can range from mild to serious. If someone accuses you of a crime like theft, it means they are accusing you of taking someone else’s property without asking them. It also means that they do not believe you have any intention of returning this property. The criminal lawyer Elizabeth, NJ residents trust from Rispoli & Borneo, P.C. want you to take this theft accusation seriously, so you should contact our office as soon as possible. We know that some accusations may not appear to be serious, but always arm yourself with a criminal lawyer. For more information on how we can help with your theft case, please call us.
What are the different types of theft?
An Elizabeth, NJ criminal lawyer knows that you should understand the difference between petty theft vs grand theft which are two of the most common categories of theft in New Jersey.
Petty Theft. When someone accuses you of petty theft, they are accusing you of stealing something of low value. It also means that you are not being accused of using force or stealing anything while using a deadly weapon. One of the most common examples of petty theft is shoplifting. For example, if you are in a department store and take clothes totaling $250 and the store owner catches you as you are leaving, this would be considered petty theft. Other examples would be not paying for your food at a restaurant or eating food while you are grocery shopping and not paying for the items.
Grand Theft. Especially when you are charged with grand theft, you will want to speak with a criminal lawyer Elizabeth, New Jersey, offers as soon as possible. Typically, when someone is charged with grand theft, it means:
- They stole around $1,000 or more (depending on the state’s rules).
- Certain types of property were stolen, like a car.
- Items were stolen directly off another person.
Other, more specific offenses of theft in New Jersey are:
- Theft by deception: when property is stolen under false pretenses.
- Theft by extortion: when someone knowingly obtains property by threatening someone with physical harm or other common threats.
- Theft of lost property: when someone keeps property that was lost if they could potentially find the owner.
- Theft of property that was delivered by mistake: when someone keeps a package that was delivered to them, but was not for them.
- Receiving stolen property: this is also known as possession of stolen property, and of course you have to know the property you’re receiving is stolen.
- Theft of services: this is when someone provides a service and does not receive payment.
- Shoplifting: this is probably the most common type of theft, stealing from a store without payment.
- Concealment of library material: this is when specific books or library material are hidden and not checked out to patrons when they’re able to be.
Theft can further be broken into levels of theft, with penalties attached. A criminal lawyer, Elizabeth, NJ can help you navigate potential offenses and penalties to find the best defense for you.
Theft Offenses and Penalties
New Jersey classifies most offenses to the value of the property involved. Below is a summary of penalties that may come after conviction.
- Theft is considered “disorderly persons” offense in New Jersey if the value of the property or service was less than $200. This is also considered being petty theft. Someone who is convicted of this crime may receive 6 months of imprisonment and a fine of $1,000 save for exceptional circumstances.
- Theft is considered a “crime of the fourth degree” in New Jersey is the value of the property or service is at least $200 but not more than $500. Punishment for this type of crime includes a fine of at most $10,000, and imprisonment for 18 months at most.
- Theft is a crime of the third degree if it falls into these circumstances, though this is not the absolute list. If the property stolen is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, horse, domestic animal or an airplane. This type of conviction leaves an offender facing punishment of 3 to 5 years.
- Theft is a crime of the second degree if it falls into these circumstances, though this is not an exhaustive list. If the property is taken by extortion, is a controlled dangerous substance or is valued at over $75,000. This type of conviction has a term of imprisonment of 5 to 10 years.
New Jersey’s Civil Penalties for Theft
Sometimes a person who commits theft may receive a civil penalty instead of imprisonment. This is especially true with shoplifting, and the parent, legal guardian or the person (if they’re of age) are civilly liable to the merchant that they stole from.
- The value of the stolen goods is not more than $500, if merchandise cannot be returned for sale.
- There are additional damages that arise from the incident.
- There is a civil penalty of $150, in most cases.
Your criminal attorney can help you work through the events of the night in question to find the right defense for you. Some defenses are:
- You had every intention of returning the item. If you can prove that you had every intention of returning the item to the owner, then there is no proof the intent to steal was ever there.
- You mistakenly took the item. Even if you did take someone else’s property, you may be able to show that you mistakenly thought the property was yours. This can be shown through receipts or proving that you had a similar or matching item.
Being accused of theft is serious, and you should speak with our criminal defense attorneys quickly so that you can ensure you have a chance at a better outcome. If you would like to get in contact with a criminal lawyer in Elizabeth, NJ from Rispoli & Borneo, P.C. for your theft charges, please call us now.