“Theft” is a broad legal term used to describe crimes that involve taking someone else's property without their permission. According to New Jersey law, theft encompasses a number of crimes that can be charged as either a disorderly person offense or an indictable offense. Theft in almost any circumstance, however, is illegal in the state - whether it be stealing a six-pack of beer in a convenience store, receiving stolen property, or merely being involved in the commission of a theft crime without being the one who's actually stealing.
Committing theft crimes can be rationalized in the eyes of some, like in cases where defendants are impoverished and are stealing necessities to survive. But despite one's intentions, it is still a charge that carries with it a stigma that makes for stern Mercer County prosecutors and judges. Harsh penalties will be imposed upon those the Mercer 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.
Theft Crimes in Mercer 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. Simply put, without proof that a defendant intended to exercise control over another person's belongings, the crime won't fall under the umbrella of theft.
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 Person 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 several 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 Mercer 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. An indictable crime is the equivalent of a felony 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 Mercer 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 many 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.