South Brunswick Theft Defense Lawyer
South Brunswick residents tout the township as one of the best places to raise a family within the state. It is in a great location, making it easy to commute to work locally or within the greater New Jersey and New York area. Despite the desirable location and median household income being roughly $100,000, South Brunswick experiences numerous crimes involving theft each and every year. Whether charged with burglary, theft by deception, shoplifting, credit card theft, robbery, or another offense, anyone accused of committing a theft crime in South Brunswick must appear in court to answer to the charges. Depending on the degree of charge and your prior history, you could be facing jail time or even a New Jersey State Prison sentence. Aside from jail, there are additional consequences that can detrimentally affect you based on your situation, such as immigration issues, restitution, fines, and probation. If you have been charged with theft in South Brunswick, New Jersey, know before you go. Contact our South Brunswick theft defense lawyers at (732) 659-9600 to discuss your case and receive a free consultation today.
Theft Charges in South Brunswick, New Jersey
One thing that all theft crimes have in common is that the person who took or received the item, or attempted such an offense, was not the original owner or the rightful owner. Similarly, all theft allegations operate under the assumption that the defendant intended to keep the item, as opposed to giving it back. While there are different types of theft crimes that may lead to criminal charges, some of the most frequently involved in South Brunswick theft cases include:
- Burglary, including car burglaries in which money or anything of value is taken from the vehicle;
- Theft of a motor vehicle;
- Credit card theft;
- Shoplifting, a form of theft from a retailer;
- Theft by deception: creating a false impression to another in order to carry out a theft offense
- Receiving stolen property;
- Taking cash, jewelry, or anything of value from anyone without permission;
- Stealing money from someone’s account without their permission, often by writing bad checks;
- Identity theft
Theft can be graded as an indictable (felony) crime or a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) under New Jersey law. The majority of theft offenses are graded based on that value of the item or property allegedly taken. While stealing is stealing, the higher the value of the property involved, the higher the degree of the charge and the more severe the consequences. Conversely, the lower the amount taken, the less severe the consequences and the lower the degree of charges. In some cases, a theft crime like burglary is graded in a unique way. For example, a typical burglary charge is graded as a third degree crime, but elevated to a second degree crime if and when the defendant possesses a weapon during the commission of the offense.
South Brunswick Disorderly Persons Theft Offenses
The lowest level theft offense that a person can be charged with is a disorderly persons offense. The police can charge you with this offense if you are accused of stealing something valued at $200 or less. For instance, if on the way out of Walmart, you swipe a pack of gum, you can be charged with a disorderly persons offense for shoplifting. Once charged, the South Brunswick Municipal Court located at 540 Ridge Road in Monmouth Junction will require your appearance. Ultimately, if the municipal prosecutor proves that you committed theft, you can be ordered to serve up to 6 months in the Middlesex County Jail and to pay a fine of up to $1,000. You may also be subject to restitution payments, probation, and/or community service mandated by the court. The most common theft offense handled in municipal court is shoplifting, but offenses such as theft of movable property may be adjudicated in municipal court as well.
Indictable Theft Crimes in South Brunswick
If you intentionally take anything of value belonging to another and it has a proven value greater than $200, you will be charged with an indictable felony crime. Simply put, if you are noticed to appear in Middlesex County Superior Court, Criminal Part, it means that the police have charged you with an indictable crime for theft in either the second, third, or fourth degree. In order of seriousness, second is the most serious and fourth is least serious degree of crime in a theft case. To have a case heard by this court, the police would have to establish probable cause to believe that you stole at least $200 worth of property that you had no permission to take. If the item alleged to have been taken is between $200 and $500 in total, whether it’s a pair of earrings, a junky old cell phone, or a rare coin, the crime is classified as a fourth degree. All fourth degree crimes have state prison terms attached; they can range up to 18 months at the highest end of the sentencing schedule.
If the amount subject to the theft exceeds $500 but is less than $75,000, you may be charged with a third degree crime, which incidentally broadens the judge’s authority in sentencing you to the tune of 3-5 years in state prison. It is worth noting that some acts, such as taking someone’s credit card without permission, are virtually always third degree crimes. The degree of the theft of the credit card does not depend on the value of the card itself or the amount charged on it, as the law makes it a third degree offense simply to take a credit card or use it without authorization. The positive aspect of third and fourth degree crimes is that there is no presumption of incarceration for anyone who has never been convicted of an offense before. This means that the judge has the discretion to sentence you to probation in lieu of prison. You may also be eligible for a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention, whereby the charges are dismissed upon successful compliance during a probationary term.
However, if you are convicted of a second degree crime, there is a presumption of imprisonment, meaning that it is almost certain that you are going to be sentenced to state prison if convicted. A second degree conviction requires the prosecutor to prove that you took something that has a value greater than $75,000. Other second degree theft crimes, such as armed burglary and robbery, also entail a presumption of incarceration. In these cases, the court may sentence you to serve between 5 and 10 years in prison. A second degree charge is the highest level crime in a typical theft case. And yet, crimes that incorporate theft and violence, such as armed robbery, are even more severe first degree crimes, punishable by mandatory prison sentences with minimum periods of parole ineligibility.
Consult a South Brunswick Theft Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have been charged with theft in South Brunswick, New Jersey, you should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. There are countless ways that a theft conviction can affect your future. For instance, if you are not a citizen of the United States, theft may be considered a crime of moral turpitude, thereby affecting your standing in the US. Theft charges can also hurt your chances of employment and housing, education, and more. No matter what the charge in your theft case, the reality is that there may be things that can be done to win your case. In some cases, a dismissal may be in order, while in others, PTI or conditional dismissal is a means by which to have your charges dismissed. Perhaps a plea to a lesser offense may be appropriate, or a downgrade to a lesser charge can be sought. When you find yourself facing theft charges, our South Brunswick theft attorneys can help explain the accusations and potential resolutions that may be available to successfully resolve your case. For more information and a free consultation, contact us at (732) 659-9600 today.