Representing Clients Charged with Auto Theft in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties
Perhaps “auto theft” sounds rather self-explanatory. And yet, there are a number of overlapping offenses that involve similar behavior but are charged and penalized separately under New Jersey Law. For example, “joyriding” is a separate offense in New Jersey, which involves taking, operating, or exercising control over a motor vehicle temporarily without the owner’s consent–notice the emphasis on the temporary nature of the offense. Conversely, a charge for “auto theft” requires unlawful taking with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of his or her motor vehicle. Taken a step further, “carjacking” is yet another offense that involves the theft of an automobile, but this charge requires the commission of an assault, threat, or other first or second degree crime while in the course of stealing a motor vehicle. Considering the breadth of charges that may fall within this realm, it is not surprising that each is also associated with certain prescribed penalties. Specifically, auto theft is punishable by a New Jersey State Prison term of up to 5 years, a period of driver’s license suspension, and considerable fines.
When you discover that you or someone you love is under investigation, facing charges, or has been indicted for auto theft, the moments that follow are critical. Mounting an effective defense requires careful investigation, compelling evidence, corroborating witnesses, and other strategic considerations that often spell the difference between victory and defeat in a court of law. At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we put our experience on both sides of the New Jersey Justice System to work when crafting a defense strategy for our clients. As former county and municipal prosecutors turned dedicated defense attorneys, our unique insight into the way that the State constructs its case allows us to anticipate, target, and undermine their arguments against our clients. With over 100 years of combined experience, we have successfully defended countless clients accused of theft crimes in Somerset and Hunterdon counties and throughout New Jersey, and we are more than prepared to advocate for you. For a cost-free consultation with one of our talented defense attorneys, contact our Bridgewater offices anytime at 908-722-1011.
Auto Theft in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3
Auto theft offenses fall within the purview of New Jersey’s general theft statute, known as “theft by unlawful taking,” which is outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. With regard to auto theft, the statute prohibits a person from taking an automobile with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the vehicle.
Although theft crimes are generally graded based on the estimated value associated with the stolen property, auto theft is always classified (at minimum) as a third degree crime, which is punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years. This means that regardless of the value of the stolen car, those charged are facing at least third degree felony charges and up to 5 years in prison.
Auto theft offenses also entail enhanced penalties, including a period of driver’s license suspension, the length of which is determined by the number (if any) of previous auto theft offenses for which the defendant has been convicted. Further, auto theft is associated with increased fines, which are outlined in more detail below.
Enhanced Penalties for Auto Theft in New Jersey: Fines, Driver’s License Suspension
Additional penalties for auto theft in New Jersey include:
- First Offense: 1-year period of driver’s license suspension and a fine of at least $500
- Second Offense: 2-year period of driver’s license suspension and a fine of at least $750
- Third Offense: 10-year period of driver’s license suspension and a fine of at least $1,000
- Defendant’s Under the Age of 17: the period of driver’s license suspension will not commence until the person reaches legal age to operate a motor vehicle
Additional fines may apply in cases wherein the stolen vehicle is valued above $7,500, as the law states the following:
If the fair market value of the automobile and its contents at the time it was stolen exceeds $7,500.00 and the automobile is not recovered, the court may sentence the defendant to pay a fine for that higher amount.
Contact our Somerset County Auto Theft Lawyers for a Free Consultation
With consequences such as these hanging over your head, it is in your best interests to seek knowledgeable legal counsel. For additional information and a free consultation with a member of our experienced criminal defense team, contact the law offices of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall anytime at 908-722-1011.