Princeton Theft Attorney
We often run into clients who, because of a sudden impulse or brief moment of indiscretion, find themselves facing a 3rd degree Theft or Shoplifting charge, which exposes them to not only a criminal conviction, but also potential jail time. Under most circumstances, the degree of the theft or the theft-related charge depends on the value of the property that is alleged to have been taken from another. For example, if the amount of the property is in excess of $500, you can be charged with a 3rd degree Theft and be facing up to 3 – 5 years in the New Jersey State Prison and up to a $15,000 fine. Accordingly, because it does not take a large amount to be looking at very serious consequences, it is important to retain an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases.
In order to be found guilty of most crimes, the prosecution needs to prove that a person committed an illegal act and that they did so with a specific mental state or “mens rea.” Accordingly, to be found guilty of theft, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3(a), the prosecution needs to prove that a person committed the act of unlawfully taking or exercising control over, moveable property of another, and that they did so with the purpose to deprive that person of that property. A person acts “purposely” when it is his/her “conscious object” or “specific intent” to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result. In other words, a person acts “purposely” if he/she means to do what he/she actually does. The term “deprive” specifically means: (1) to withhold or cause to be withheld property of another permanently or for so extended a period as to appropriate a substantial portion of its economic value; or (2) to dispose or cause disposal of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it.
Grading of Theft Offenses – N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2(b):
Theft constitutes a crime of the 2nd degree, in which a person is facing a presumption of imprisonment of up to 5 – 10 years and up to a $150,000 fine, if: the amount of the property stolen is $75,000 or more; the property is taken by extortion; the property stolen is a controlled dangerous substance and the quantity is in excess of one kilogram; the property stolen is a person’s benefits under federal or State law, or from any other source, which the Department of Human Services or an agency acting on its behalf has budgeted for the person’s health care and the amount involved is $75,000 or more; or the property stolen is human remains or any part thereof.
Theft constitutes a crime of the 3rd degree, in which a person is facing up to 3 – 5 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine, if: the amount involved exceeds $500, but is less than $75,000; the property stolen is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, horse, domestic companion animal or airplane; the property stolen is a controlled dangerous substance and the amount involved is less than $75,000 or undetermined and the quantity is one kilogram or less; it is from the person of the victim; it is in breach of an obligation by a person in his capacity as a fiduciary; it is by a threat not amounting to extortion; it is of a public record, writing or instrument kept, filed or deposited according to law with or in the keeping of a public office or public servant; the property stolen is a person’s benefits under federal or State law, or from any other source, which the Department of Human Services or an agency acting on its behalf has budgeted for the person’s health care and the amount involved is less than $75,000; the property stolen is any real or personal property related to, necessary for, or derived from research, regardless of value; the property stolen is a New Jersey Prescription Blank; the property stolen consists of an access device such as a key fob or garage door opener.
In addition to the fines and penalties that may be imposed for a theft conviction, a judge, under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, may also order restitution to cover th victim’s loss. We often encounter situations where there is the appearance that a victim is either seeking more restitution than he/she is actually entitled to or seeking to “double-dip” after having already been paid by an insurance company. In these situations, it may be appropriate to ask for a separate hearing on the issue of the restitution amount. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-2(c), when such a hearing is requested, the judge shall take into consideration the financial resources of the defendant and his/her ability to pay. The State bears the burden to establish the restitution amount during the hearing. State v. Martinez, 392 N.J. Super. 307, 319 (App. Div. 2007)(stating that the prosecution must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the amount of restitution to be ordered). The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have a tremendous amount of experience in evaluating if it is possible to challege the restitution being sought by the victim without compromising any potential favorable plea extended by the prosecution.
In addtion to any other disposition authorized by law, a person convicted of theft of a motor vehicle shall be subject:
1st offense: $500 penalty and one year driver’s license suspension;
2nd offense: $750 penalty and two year driver’s license suspension; and
3rd or subsequent offense: $1,000 penalty and ten year driver’s license loss.
Furthermore, under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2.1, in addition to any other fine, penalty or restitution, which may be imposed by law, a person convicted of theft of a motor vehicle is liable to the owner of the motor vehicle for any reasonable and necessary expense incurred by the owner in recovering the motor vehicle and for any damage to the motor vehicle prior to its recovery by the owner.
Sometimes good people make mistakes and find themselves tied up in bad situations. If you or a loved one are facing theft or a theft-related charge, please have our team of Mercer County theft defense attorneys fight for your best interests. Contact our Princeton Office at (609) 683-8102 for your free consultation.
We serve clients throughout Mercer County, New Jersey — including Trenton, Hamilton, Princeton Borough, West Windsor, East Windsor, Lawrence Township, Robbinsville, Hightstown, Princeton Township, Ewing and Hopewell — and surrounding areas, including Hunterdon County and Burlington County.