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New Jersey Theft Attorneys

Defense Against Theft, Robbery & Burglary in New Jersey

The law distinguishes between many different kinds of theft: those relating to computer criminal activities, motor vehicle theft, theft from a grave site, theft of services, and racketeering, to a name a few. The common connection linking all of the different theft crimes together is that theft involves an unlawful taking of another’s property with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property.

How serious a theft charge is depends on the amount taken or, in some instances, on what is taken. Contact a New Jersey theft attorney immediately if you've been charged with one of the following crimes.

Theft of a Motor Vehicle in New Jersey

Theft of a motor vehicle prescribes mandatory fines and penalties for stealing a car beyond those normally allowable in the law. For a first offense, in addition to any other punishment, a person convicted of stealing a car shall be fined $500 and lose their driver’s license for 1 year. A second offense raises the fine to $750 and a 2-year suspension. A third offense imposes a $1000 fine and loss of the right to drive for 10 years.

Receiving Stolen Property

A person is guilty of theft if they knowingly receive property that they know (or should know) is stolen.

Theft of Services

A person is guilty of theft if they purposely obtain services that they know are available only for money, by deception or threat, fake coin, or through fraudulent statement to avoid payment.

Common examples of such services include:

  • Transportation – Not paying cab fare or bus fare
  • Cable or internet
  • Hotels and restaurants – Leaving without paying

Shoplifting Penalties in NJ

Whether it’s for the thrill of it, a compulsion you can’t control, or a real need, shoplifting occurs when a person takes, conceals, or alters merchandise or price tags in an attempt to purchase the item for less than the full retail value. In addition to any other sentence a court can impose based upon the value of the property taken, a conviction for shoplifting comes with a mandatory community services requirement of 10 days for a first offense, 15 days for a second offense, and for a third or subsequent offense, the law requires up to 25 days’ community service and a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of not less than 90 days.

Robbery Penalties in NJ

Robbery is a theft plus force or threats of force. Robbery is a second-degree crime except it is a first degree-crime if the defendant, while committing the robbery, tries to kill anyone, inflicts serious bodily injury, or is armed with a deadly weapon.


Carjacking is the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle by force, causing bodily injury, making threats of bodily injury, or driving off with an innocent person still inside the car. No matter the value of the car you steal, carjacking is a first-degree crime carrying a prison sentence of 10 to 30 years with a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. Expert counsel will be required to avoid a long prison sentence for a carjacking charge.


A person commits burglary if, with the purpose to commit an offense therein, they:

  • Enter a structure (building or room) or
  • Secretly remain once inside, knowing they do not have permission to do so.

The grading of burglary is as follows: second-degree crime if the person recklessly, knowingly, or purposely inflicts or tries to inflict bodily injury on another person or is armed with what is or appears to be a deadly weapon. Otherwise, burglary is a third-degree crime.

Unlicensed Entry of Structures

This is a fourth-degree crime similar to burglary, but the defendant does not have the intent to commit an offense once inside. Going in or remaining inside a structure is enough to complete the act.

Defiant Trespasser

This is a petty disorderly persons offense that involves a person going onto any property either clearly labeled NO TRESPASSING or enclosed with a fence.

Peering into Windows

2C:18-3c is a fourth-degree crime when the defendant, knowing they are not allowed to, peers into a window in order to invade another’s privacy under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.

The law carves out three defenses to unlicensed entry, defiant trespasser, and peering.

These include:

  • The structure was abandoned
  • The structure was open to the public
  • The defendant reasonably believed that the owner would have allowed them inside or to peer in

An experienced New Jersey theft attorney may be able to argue that the acts performed either do not result in the charges above or that one of the affirmative defenses apply.

If you are facing a theft, robbery, or burglary charge, contact a theft crimes lawyer in New Jersey at (732) 607-5553 for strong representation.

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