New Jersey Criminal Theft Law

We represent clients charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:20 & 21; New Jersey criminal theft complaints and indictments filed in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Union County, and Hudson County.

New Jersey criminal theft law prohibits the "involuntary transfer of property;" the defendant obtaining the property of the victim without her consent or with consent obtained by fraud or coercion.

Theft is a crime of the second degree if the amount involved is $75,000.00 or more; or if it is committed by extortion regardless of the amount involved.

Theft is a crime of the third degree when the amount involved is under $75,000.00 but exceeds $500.00.

Certain offenses are crimes of the third degree even if the value is less than $500.00.

These include the theft of firearms, automobiles, vessels, boats, horses, domestic companion animals or airplanes, although if any of those items exceed the value of $75,000.00 then it becomes a second degree crime.

Theft of a public record or document is a third degree crime.

Also property taken from the person of the victim - stolen purse - is a crime of the third degree.

Property taken by threat not amounting to extortion is also a crime of the third degree.

If the amount involved in the theft is not more than $500.00 but at least two hundred dollars, it is a crime of the fourth degree.

If the amount involved is less than $200.00, it constitutes a disorderly persons offense.

Under New Jersey criminal theft law, there are three affirmative defenses to the charge of theft.

First, defendant was unaware that the property or service was that of another because in order for there to be a conviction there must be "conscious misappropriation."

Second, defendant acted under an honest claim of right to the property or service or that he had a right to acquire and dispose of the property as he did.

A person could take back property that had been stolen from him and if force or violence is used to take back the property, he could not be convicted of robbery although he could be convicted of some other offense.

Third, defendant took property exposed for sale intending to purchase and pay for it promptly or reasonably believing that the owner, if present, would have consented.

Did You Know

The fact that the victim wrongfully possessed the property will not prevent the prosecution of one who wrongfully deprives the victim of the property.

There can be prosecution for committing theft from a spouse so long as it is not household goods, personal effects or other property normally accessible to both spouses.

If you have any questions for a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer about a New Jersey criminal theft charge, please do not hesitate to contact us.