“Theft” is a universal legal term used to describe criminal offenses that entail taking someone else's property without their permission. Due to the term's vague legal definition, theft can encompass a number of crimes that can be charged as either a disorderly person offense or an indictable offense under New Jersey law. Theft in almost any circumstance is illegal in the state - whether it be stealing a candy bar in a convenience store, receiving property you know is stolen, or merely being involved in the commission of a theft crime without being the one who's actually stealing.
Although the commission of theft crimes can be rationalized in some cases, especially in cases when the defendant is homeless or impoverished, it is still a charge that carries with it a stigma that makes for stern Burlington County prosecutors and judges. Ultimately, regardless of a defendant's intentions, stiff penalties are still imposed upon those the Burlington County courts deem as thieves. This is why it's important for people accused of a theft crime to obtain legal counsel from a skilled defense attorney. An experienced lawyer will be able to provide viable options, work towards a sentence reduction, and apply defenses in hopes of prompting a dismissal.
Types of Theft Crimes in Burlington County
New Jersey criminal statutes define theft as the unlawful taking of someone else's property. A sole element that is evident in every constituted theft crime is the intent to deprive an owner of the property that was stolen.
State law highlights a number of specific types of theft offenses. Here's a list of a few of them:
- Theft of services
- Theft by extortion
- Theft by deception
- Theft of lost property
- Receiving stolen property
- The concealment of library material
Disorderly Persons vs. Indictable Theft Crimes
As mentioned above, a theft crime in New Jersey can be classified as either a disorderly person offense or an indictable offense. The category in which a theft crime falls depends on a combination of a number of factors.
The type of crime you allegedly committed, whether or not you're a first-time offender, the value of the property taken, and whether or not the theft crime was committed in conjunction with another criminal offense typically determines the severity of the charges.
Theft as a disorderly person offense
A disorderly person offense is equivalent to a misdemeanor in other states. Theft crimes that are categorized as such are generally considered petty theft. If the theft constitutes a disorderly person offense in Burlington County, a defendant will face imprisonment for a term that doesn't exceed six months and a fine of up to $1,000.
Theft as an indictable crime
Theft that constitutes an indictable crime will be charged in degrees. To put things into perspective, an indictable crime is the equivalent of a felony offense in other states.
Theft as a crime of the fourth degree is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the theft is deemed a crime of the third degree, an offender faces an imprisonment term for 3 to 5 and/or a fine of up to $15,000.
If theft constitutes a crime of the second degree, the punishment will include a prison sentence for 5 to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $150,000.
Accused of Theft in Burlington County? Contact the Lento Law Firm
Now that you know what you're up against, you can begin to make smart decisions by consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. With over 15 years of experience, Joseph D. Lento has the expertise to successfully defend clients who've acquired both disorderly person offense and indictable offense theft crimes. If you've been charged with any of the crimes mentioned above, contact attorney Lento today for a consultation at 888-535-3686.