Embezzlement is a type of property theft offense. Common examples of the property include money, real estate, securities, intellectual property, and more. Acts of theft deprive the rightful owner of their property. Acts that deprive may involve withholding property temporarily or permanently or otherwise disposing of it.
Essential Elements of Embezzlement Offenses
The offense is perpetrated by someone functioning in a fiduciary role or other entrusted position that had access to the property based on their employment. The offense is committed knowingly and the property is obtained for personal use. Common synonyms for a fiduciary include an executor, guardian, trustee, agent, and others.
Crimes of embezzlement are classified within a broad category of “white-collar” offenses that are usually committed for some financial benefit. When the perpetrator is an employee of a business or government entity, it is often categorized as occupational fraud. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) prosecutes approximately 32% of all white-collar crimes.
Levels of New Jersey Theft Offenses
Embezzlement may be charged as a second-degree offense if the value of the property is $75,000 or more. If the crime is committed by a fiduciary, this value is reduced to $50,000 or more. It is charged as a third-degree offense when the value of the property involved is between $500 and $75,000. Third-degree charges also apply to those in a fiduciary role with property valued at less than $50,000. Fourth-degree offenses involve property ranging from $200 to $500, with all below $200 being disorderly person offenses.
Potential Increased Penalties for Theft Offenses
New Jersey's theft offenses are subject to upgraded levels of severity under certain circumstances. For example, theft of firearms, controlled substances, blank prescriptions, and others.
- Second-degree: Imprisonment of between five and ten years and a maximum $150,000 fine
- Third-degree: Imprisonment of between three and five years and a maximum $15,000 fine
- Fourth-degree: Up to 18 months of incarceration and a maximum $10,000 fine
- Disorderly Person Offense: Up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine
What are the Affirmative Defenses in New Jersey?
There are a few different affirmative defenses specified in the statutes. The first asserts that the offender was unaware that the property involved belonged to someone else. Defendants may also contend that they thought their actions were rightful and within their scope of normal responsibility or that the victim (owner) would have granted his or her consent.
In instances where the property involved was for sale, defendants may state that they fully intended to pay the owner for it. The law does not typically permit filing criminal theft charges against a spouse.
Venues for Criminal Cases in Monmouth County
Monmouth County has roughly 53 Municipal Courts operated at the city or township level. Municipal Courts in New Jersey have limited jurisdiction, handling only disorderly person offenses, motor vehicle and parking violations, and local ordinance offenses. More serious criminal cases at transferred to the Superior Court at the county level.
Monmouth County Courthouse
71 Monument Park
Freehold, NJ 07728-1266
Defense Lawyer in Monmouth County for Theft Offenses
Prosecutors throughout New Jersey are imposing very harsh penalties on those convicted of embezzlement and similar theft offenses. You should choose a defense attorney that has the skills and experience necessary to effectively defend against these allegations. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at (888) 535-3686.