Theft is taking possession of or exercising unlawful control over another person’s property without consent and with the intent to either permanently deprive the rightful owner of access to the property or to return the property only after receiving compensation. As a legal term, “theft” applies to a variety of crimes, including shoplifting, burglary, robbery, extortion, fraud and forgery.
A conviction for theft not only carries serious penalties but also establishes a criminal record that will make it harder for you to find housing, employment and borrow money from lenders. You cannot afford to take theft charges lightly. You should respond to an arrest by obtaining the best legal representation available as soon as possible.
The defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall in Morristown, New Jersey, include former prosecutors and public defenders with decades of experience in courtrooms throughout the state. Our team of theft defense lawyers has successfully represented defendants charged with various types of theft in in Parsippany, Troy Hills, Roxbury, Dover, Denville, Boonton and other Morris County townships for more than 15 years. We have the qualifications, experience and resources needed to develop a solid defense for you.
Call or fill out our online contact form to set up a free initial consultation with one of our experienced New Jersey theft and fraud defense attorneys in our Morristown, N.J., office.
Common Types of Theft Cases We Handle in Morris County
Our law firm has more than 200 years of combined legal experience on staff, including over 25 years of experience prosecuting crimes. We use that experience to help our clients fight theft charges. In addition to having been on both sides of the table for a wide range of theft and fraud cases, we have the working relationships in Morris County courts to have prosecutors consider proposals to resolve charges against our clients.
The types of theft cases the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can assist you with include:
- Theft of Movable Property
- Theft by Deception
- Theft of Services
- Check Fraud
- Passing Bad Checks
- Credit Card Fraud
- Identity Theft
- Receiving Stolen Property
- Joyriding / Theft of an Automobile
- Insurance Fraud
- Money Laundering
Under New Jersey law, criminal offenses are categorized by degree, which may be based on the nature of the crime, the amount of money or value of property involved, whether the alleged crime included an act of violence, and other factors. Lesser crimes are considered disorderly persons offenses, which are known as “misdemeanors” in many states. The degree of offense you are charged with dictates the amount of fine or prison time you may face, if convicted.
For example, robbery is theft that includes a threat or use of force. Robbery is a crime of the second degree, unless the perpetrator uses a weapon. Armed robbery is a first-degree crime with more severe punishment possible.
Shoplifting may be charged as a disorderly person offense if the value of the merchandise allegedly stolen is less than $200. The punishment available for shoplifting increases with the value of goods stolen. If the retail value of the merchandise stolen is $75,000 or more, a conviction is punished as a second-degree offense. Certain types of financial frauds involving larger sums of money carry harsh penalties.
Some crimes have specific punishments. These are the punishments generally available upon being found guilty of a crime in New Jersey:
- A person convicted of a first-degree offense may face 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000.
- A person convicted of a second-degree offense may face 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
- A person convicted of a third-degree offense may face 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
- A person convicted of a fourth-degree offense may face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- A person convicted of a disorderly person offense may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
- A person convicted of a petty disorderly person offense may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500.
The wide variance in punishments available for theft crimes provides ample opportunity to negotiate with prosecutors for a lesser charge and/or sentence. But prosecutors are obligated to seek convictions. Unless persuaded otherwise, you can expect a prosecutor to seek the harshest sentence they believe a judge will hand down.
For your rights to be protected, and for all possible objections to the charges against you to be raised, you must engage a criminal defense attorney experienced in New Jersey courts. It is best to contact a criminal defense lawyer for theft charges as soon as possible after being arrested so that your attorney can begin to examine the evidence that police and/or prosecutors have against you.
How Our Morris County Theft Defense Lawyers Can Help
Regardless of the type of theft charges you face, unless you plead guilty, prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. There are many opportunities to have theft charges dismissed or reduced, and defendants who stand trial for theft in New Jersey courts are found not guilty every day.
Like any person accused of a crime, you have the Constitutional right to a robust legal defense that thoroughly challenges the prosecution’s case and seeks an outcome favorable to you. Our attorneys will fight to achieve results that have the least adverse impact on you at the end of your case and on your future.
The sooner the Law Offices of James F. Marshall can get involved in your case, the better the opportunity to help you. Once we have been engaged as your defense team, we can start investigating the charges against you, including determining whether there was police or prosecutorial misconduct or other flaws in the prosecution’s case. We may be able to make pre-trial motions and have the court exclude disputed evidence.
An arrest and/or evidence may be challenged due to:
- Illegal search and seizure
- Faulty suspect lineup / mistaken identity
- Witnesses who are not credible
- Faulty or fabricated testimony
- Faulty forensic testing (particularly regarding DNA evidence)
- Racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, sexual orientation, age or other bias.
Because of the years we have worked in Morris County, our attorneys have the professional relationships necessary to reach out to begin negotiating for theft charges to be dismissed or reduced as part of a plea bargain.
If a trial is necessary, we will represent you with a solid defense. Potential defenses to charges of theft and fraud include:
- Inability to establish ownership of the property in question
- Inability to establish the defendant’s possession of the property
- Lack of intent to deprive the owner of the property, including lack of knowledge of ownership
- Defendant’s bona fide (legitimate) claim of rights to the property
- Entrapment, coercion or other inducement by another for the defendant to commit the alleged theft
- Mental impairment at the time of the alleged theft that prevented understanding of right vs. wrong or the consequences of the defendant’s actions
- Incorrect value assigned to property.
Theft cases typically pit one person’s word against another’s. Disputes may center on rightful ownership, whether there was agreement to transfer ownership, such as in a sale that was undocumented, or whether there was expressed or implied consent allowing property to be borrowed.
In some cases, it may be possible to make restitution to the alleged victim of a theft in exchange for dismissal of the charges. We are skilled negotiators and can make such overtures when circumstances warrant.
We may also be able to arrange a plea that leads to Conditional Discharge probation or Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), programs meant to keep nonviolent first offenders out of the prison system.
New Jersey’s Veterans’ Diversion program allows participants to avoid trial and a criminal record. It is available to active military members and retirees accused of nonviolent crimes who have been diagnosed with mental illness or who have exhibited signs of mental illness in front of law enforcement, family members or friends.
Contact Our Theft Crime Defense Lawyers in Morris County, N.J.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our attorneys have decades of experience defending people like you against criminal charges, including charges of robbery, fraud, extortion, shoplifting, stealing a car and other kinds of theft. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges in Morris County, do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation about the particulars of your case with an experienced theft and fraud defense attorney.
Our N.J. theft charges defense attorneys are ready to put our knowledge, skills and experience to work for you. An arrest is the beginning of a long process that does not necessarily have to lead to a guilty verdict. Our team will move promptly to prepare a strong defense aimed at achieving the best available legal outcome for you. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall in Morristown, N.J., today.