Are Theft Crimes In New Jersey A Misdemeanor Or Felony Offense?

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Have You Been Arrested Or Charged With Theft Crimes In New Jersey?

If a person is arrested and charged with a theft charge in New Jersey, there are penalties if they are convicted. Depending on the exact type of criminal offenses they’ve been charged with, these penalties can include paying hefty fines and/or serving jail time.

The State of New Jersey charges a theft crime in varying degrees. Anyone who is facing a theft crime will want to understand how the State of New Jersey determines the degree of the crime the accused is charged with and what a guilty verdict could mean.

How Do New Jersey Courts Determine The Severity Of A Theft Charge?

New Jersey doesn’t classify theft crimes as misdemeanor or felony crimes. However, much like misdemeanors and felony crimes, theft crimes in New Jersey are classified by the nature of the theft, the value of the stolen property, and if the crime was committed in conjunction with a second crime (i.e. armed robbery or another violent crime). New Jersey differentiates the level of crime committed by the following:

  • Disorderly persons offenses are equated to what’s commonly referred to as a “misdemeanor offense and are the least serious of all theft crimes.
  • Indictable offenses are equated to what’s commonly referred to as a “felony” offense and are charged in varying degrees depending upon the crime and variables involved when it was carried out.

New Jersey law also takes into consideration if the crime was committed by a first-time or repeat offender.

What Are The Penalties For Theft In New Jersey?

While New Jersey doesn’t classify theft crimes as misdemeanors or felonies, they do differentiate disorderly persons offenses from indictable offenses. Indictable offenses are charged at different degrees depending upon the nature of the crime. The degree a person is charged with will determine the type of penalty the defendant will be sentenced to if convicted as guilty.

  • Disorderly persons offense: Persons arrested on a charge of a disorderly persons offense are accused of taking property worth less than $200. If convicted, the defendant may or may not be sentenced to prison. For defendants convicted of this offense, New Jersey State Law allows up to six months of jail time and the convicted person can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
  • First degree: This is the most serious of theft crimes. If convicted, the defendant could be sent to prison for up to 20 years and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $200,000. Usually, this indictment is only pursued if the theft was committed in conjunction with a violent crime.
  • Second degree: Persons arrested on theft charges in the second degree are accused of taking property worth $75,000 or more. If convicted, the defendant can face five to 10 years of jail time and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $150,000.
  • Third degree: Persons arrested on theft charges in the third degree are accused of taking property worth more than $500 but less than $75,000. If convicted, the defendant can face three to five years of jail time and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Fourth degree: Persons arrested on theft charges in the fourth degree are accused of taking property worth more than $200 but less than $500. This charge is the least serious of a felony-level theft crime. If convicted, the defendant can face up to 18 months of jail time and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000 or double the victim’s loss, whichever amount is larger.

New Jersey State Law also takes several other variables into consideration when determining theft charges, such as if drugs or extortion were involved. If a person is facing a first-time arrest, they may be eligible to attend one of New Jersey’s diversionary programs.

  • Defendants who are first-time offenders and are accused of a serious non-violent crime are eligible for New Jersey’s Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). Those who meet and comply with all the conditions of PTI supervision and successfully complete this program will have no record of conviction. PTI is a one-time opportunity.
  • A Conditional Dismissal is another diversionary program that also allows defendants to avoid having a criminal conviction. This program is only available to first-time offenders committing minor crimes. People who have previously participated in a diversionary program are not eligible to participate in a Conditional Dismissal program.

If drugs are involved in a minor crime, New Jersey has a third diversionary program called a Conditional Discharge.

How An Essex County Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Repercussions of a theft conviction can extend long beyond serving a sentence as ordered by the judge. For instance, if a person convicted in New Jersey of certain types of theft, in the future they may find it difficult to secure specific types of jobs or obtain credit—even if they’ve served their full sentence in accordance with state law. If you, or a family member, have been charged with a theft-related crime, no matter the degree of the charge, it’s important to seek the advice of a skilled defense attorney. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can ensure fair treatment during the legal process and make certain the defendant receives the best possible outcome.

The attorneys at Breslow Law Offices have more than 45 years of experience. Attorney Roy W. Breslow has served on both sides of the legal system, having worked as a prosecutor and a Deputy Attorney General before founding the Breslow Law Offices in 1978. His daughter, Casey Breslow, brings her experience to the firm after working in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office with having prosecuted 1000s of cases. With their combined experience and knowledge on both sides of the legal aisle, their clients can be assured they have strong attorneys working in their best interests.

The attorneys at Breslow Law Offices work hard to defend their clients who have been accused of crimes to ensure they receive fair treatment in accordance with the law. To receive legal advice or to start with a free consultation to learn more about theft crimes, including white-collar and grand larceny crimes in NJ, contact the Breslow Law Offices today.