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Theft In New Jersey

Been Caught Stealing

Theft in New Jersey constitutes the unlawful taking or unlawful control of property that belongs to another person or business with the intent to deprive the owner of their belongings. Theft can be anything from shoplifting a candy bar from a corner store to stealing a car.

Shoplifting items under $200 constitutes a disorderly persons offense, while grand theft auto for cars worth up to $75,000 is a crime of the third degree. Theft can also include identity theft, fraud, embezzlement, receipt of stolen merchandise, burglary and downloading music, movies, books or programs from the internet without paying for the items. Under New Jersey criminal law there are various forms of theft crimes which fall under the statue of N.J.S.A. 2C:20.

Theft By Unlawful Taking or Disposition N.J.S.A. 2C:20.3

If a person is in a restaurant in Asbury Park and sees a purse hanging off the back of a chair, if they chooses to steal that purse, once caught by the police would be charged with theft by unlawful taking of movable property (N.J.S.A. 2C:20.3(a)). The charge of theft by unlawful taking can be charged as a 2nd, 3rd or 4th degree charge depending on the value of the property which was taken and whether a weapon was used during the criminal act.

Theft by Deception N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4

After Hurricane Sandy many towns along the Jersey Shore including Mantoloking, Toms River and Belmar were devastated by the effects of the storm. But with any great tragedy, there were those who attempt to make a dollar off of the heart ache of those who lost everything. One scams consisted of individuals who promise that they could fight the homeowner's insurance company on the behalf of the homeowner and come away with a greater return. These people claimed that they knew the insurance industries secrets that the common person wouldn't know.  These people would share their knowledge for a modest fee. In most cases these individuals were bogus and gained the homeowner nothing more than additional grief and loss of money. In this scenario the scammers would face Theft by Deception N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4 charges once apprehended.

Shoplifting N.J.S.A. 2C:20.11

An individual will be charged with shoplifting if they purposely take a good from a store with the intent to deprive the merchant of possession, conceal a good while in the store (law enforcement officials assume that concealing is intent to deprive), change the price or otherwise alter the good in an attempt to purchase it (or have someone else purchase it) for less money. A employee of a charge could also be charged with shoplifting if they under-ringing a purchase, or allowing a shopping cart full of products through their line without ringing up the items.

Credit Card Theft N.J.S.A. 2C:21.6(c)

If you ever find a credit card on the floor, left behind at a store or accidentally mailed to the wrong address you should under no circumstances use it to purchase any items. Credit card theft in New Jersey is a very serious offense. It has the potential to put you in prison and cost you thousands in legal fees and fines plus jail time. There are many different ways one can be charged with credit card theft, and some would surprise you.

What Are The Penalties For Theft In New Jersey?

The possible penalties associated with a theft conviction in New Jersey are dependent upon the value of the allegedly taken property and whether you have had prior convictions for the crime of theft.

  • $.01 to $200.00: Disorderly Persons Offense. Fine up to $1,000, maximum of 180 days in jail, community service.
  • $200.01 to $500.00: Fourth Degree Crime. Fine up to $10,000, maximum 18 months in jail, community service.
  • $500.01 to $75,000.00: Third Degree Crime. Fines up to $15,000, 3 to 5 years in jail, community service.
  • $75,000.00 or Greater: Second Degree Crime. Fines up to $150,000, 5 to 10 years in jail, community service.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Point Pleasant Beach

In New Jersey, the crime of theft is intent-based, meaning that a defendant must have intended to take the property of another in order to properly be found guilty of the crime. Therefore, if the defendant was unaware that the property belonged to someone else it is possible that the case against the defendant for the crime of theft will not be successful. For example, the defendant is at a coffee shop working on their laptop. Before leaving for the day they get up to throw away their trash. Upon returning to what they thought was their table they take the computer that was on top of the table, put it in their bag and walk away. However, unbeknownst to the defendant, the computer they took did not belong to them, but rather to someone that was in the bathroom at the time of the taking. Because the computers look identical to one another, the defendant took the wrong computer by mistake. In this scenario, the defendant would not be guilty of theft, even though they took movable property belonging to another because they did not intend to deprive the true owner of the property. The lack of intention would absolve the defendant of any criminal wrongdoing in regards to the charge of theft.

If you find yourself facing charges for theft in Monmouth County it's time to hire an experienced defense attorney like Carmine R. Villani. It is free to speak to our New Jersey Defense Team about your case. Start preparing your defense against these harsh charges by calling 732-820-1256 today! Defending clients from Tinton Falls to Tuckerton.


If you ever find a credit card on the floor, left behind at a store or accidentally mailed to the wrong address you should under no circumstances use it to purchase any items. Credit card theft in New Jersey is a very serious offense. It has the potential to put you in prison and cost you thousands in legal fees and fines plus jail time. There are many different ways one can be charged with credit card theft, and some would surprise you. Credit card theft is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(c), and outlines six different ways in which someone can commit credit card theft.

1. Stealing someone else's credit card or receiving a credit card you know to be stolen. This one is pretty straight forward. You cannot take someone's credit card and use it, or have someone steal it for you and then use it. Additionally, you will be presumed to be guilty of this offense if you have two or more credit cards in your possession that belong to others.

2. Receiving a card that has been lost, mislaid, or delivered to the wrong person with the intent to use, sell, or transfer it

3. Selling or buying a credit card from any person other than the “business organization or financial institution which issues a credit card or its duly authorized agent”

4. Obtaining control over a credit card in order to use it as security for a debt with the intent to defraud

5. Signing a credit card that does not belong to you with the intent to defraud

4th Degree Crimes

All of the crimes described above are crimes of the 4th degree. This means that the violator could face fines up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison. These are serious crimes that you do not want on your criminal record.

3rd Degree Crime

Credit card theft can also be charged as a 3rd degree crime. The statute states that credit card theft will be a crime of the 3rd degree if:

A person who, with intent to defraud a purported issuer, a person or organization providing money, goods, services or anything else of value, or any other person, falsely makes or falsely embosses a purported credit card or utters such a credit card is guilty of a third degree offense. A person other than the purported issuer who possesses two or more credit cards which are falsely made or falsely embossed is presumed to have violated this paragraph. A person “falsely makes” a credit card when he makes or draws, in whole or in part, a device or instrument which purports to be the credit card of a named issuer but which is not such a credit card because the issuer did not authorize the making or drawing, or alters a credit card which was validly issued. A person “falsely embosses” a credit card when, without the authorization of the named issuer, he completes a credit card by adding any of the matter, other than the signature of the cardholder, which an issuer requires to appear on the credit card before it can be used by a cardholder.

Should I get an attorney if charged?

Yes, you should most definitely retain an educated criminal defense attorney if charged with any type of credit card offense. These charges are serious and will not be taken lightly by future employers or landlords. Theft of any kind is terrible to see on a criminal record as it supports the immediate judgment that you are dishonest.

If charged with any credit card offense, call Villani & DeLuca, P.C. immediately. The first consultation is absolutely free, talk to us and you can see what we can do. Call today for a free consultation at 732-820-1256.

You Have Rights! Let Our Firm Help Protect Them!

If you are facing charges in Ocean County or Monmouth County, you should be aware that a conviction can have serious consequences which will impact your life. The attorneys at Villani & DeLuca are experienced in helping people that are facing criminal charges determine the best possible outcome for their case and work toward an effective resolution. Carmine Villani and the lawyers at Villani & DeLuca will be with you every step of the way.

Contact the criminal defense team of Villani & DeLuca today.