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Is Theft a Felony or Misdemeanor in New Jersey?

Published: Nov 06, 2017 in Criminal Defense, Theft

If someone believes you have taken possession or control of something that does not belong to you, then you may end up facing theft charges in New Jersey. But what does that really mean? If you have never been charged with a crime before, you may not be sure of how serious theft accusations are. You may not know whether theft is typically charged as a misdemeanor or felony, and in either case, what the potential punishments are.

You should not move forward in your case without gaining this information and more. The best thing for you to do is call a Jersey City theft attorney at Bhatt Law Group and learn about what you are up against. Theft that involves a small amount of property, like shoplifting, may be a disorderly person’s offense. This is similar to a misdemeanor and could enable you to obtain a light sentence, if convicted. Or theft may be a higher degree crime, similar to a felony and penalized with years in prison.

Only when you fully understand the charges and what is at stake can you make an educated decision about what is best for you and your family. However you choose to address the charges, we are here to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Call our experienced theft lawyers today at (201) 798-8000 to schedule an initial consultation.

Theft Under New Jersey Law

New Jersey statute §2C:20-3 describes theft as the unlawful taking or disposition of movable or immovable property. You can be found guilty of theft if there is evidence you unlawfully took, or exercised unlawful control over, the movable property of another with the purpose to deprive that person thereof. This can include money or personal items. You can also be convicted of theft if there is evidence you unlawfully transferred interest in another person’s immovable property, like real estate or investments, with the purpose of benefitting yourself or another person not entitled to the property.

Theft is not always a straightforward physical act. You may be charged with a crime for theft by deception, theft by extortion, and theft of property that was lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake. You can also be charged with a crime for knowingly receiving stolen property, even if you did not commit the original theft yourself.

Penalties for Theft in New Jersey

New Jersey does not divide crimes into misdemeanors and felonies like most other states. Instead, crimes are either disorderly person’s offenses or labelled as a fourth-, third-, second-, or first-degree offense. A disorderly person’s offense is the least serious level of crime, and is similar to a misdemeanor. If convicted, you may go to jail, not a state prison. A fourth-degree crime is the next least serious offense, similar to a low-level felony, while a first-degree crime is the most serious level of offense, including murder and rape.

Theft offenses are categorized by degrees in New Jersey based on the value of the property or services stolen:

  • Less than $200- A disorderly person’s offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
  • Between $200 and $500- A fourth-degree offense, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Between $500 and $75,000- A third-degree crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.
  • More than $75,000- A second-degree offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $150,000.

A Jersey City Theft Attorney Can Help

If you are being investigated for theft or have been charged, contact us at Bhatt Law Group right away. The value of property can add up quickly, sending you into a higher degree offense and potentially harsher punishments. Additionally, certain types of items, like vehicles, have additional penalties.

Our Jersey City theft lawyers will fight for you to face the lowest charge possible. Then we will build you the strongest defense available under the law in order to strive for your exoneration in court or at least minimize the consequences of a conviction.

To learn more about how we can help, contact us online or call (201) 798-8000 to schedule a free initial consultation.