New Jersey Auto Theft Defense Attorneys
Stealing a car is a crime of theft in New Jersey that could lead to a sentence of 5 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines and payments. In actuality, there are several crimes potentially linked to auto theft in New Jersey, which could result in a range of charges, up to and including carjacking, which is a first-degree offense punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison.
If you have become involved in an auto theft and face charges in New Jersey, you need to engage an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The New Jersey Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can provide a criminal defense capable of keeping an auto theft conviction off your record and you out of jail. No matter the circumstances of the auto theft charges you face, we can help you seek the most favorable resolution to the case available under New Jersey law.
Our attorneys are former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders who spent decades in courts across New Jersey before joining our firm as defense lawyers. Our team possesses a deep understanding of the law and how prosecutors pursue auto theft cases. Our firm also has the resources necessary to develop and present a solid defense against car theft charges.
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is known for its creative and strategic defenses in criminal cases. And because of our time spent in New Jersey courtrooms, prosecutors know us well enough to listen to our suggestions when lesser charges are appropriate for our clients, and when charges should be dismissed.
If you have been arrested or indicted for a crime related to auto theft in New Jersey, you should set up a free initial consultation with the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall as soon as possible. We can meet with you at any of our nine New Jersey locations. Call or fill out our online form today to learn about the legal options available to protect you from potentially severe consequences of stolen car charges.
What Is Auto Theft Under New Jersey Law?
It’s not hard to understand that taking someone else’s car without permission is considered theft, even if it’s just taking a stolen car for the proverbial “joy ride.”
Under New Jersey law, auto theft is a fourth-degree offense, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The applicable N.J. state statute defines the crime as “with purpose to withhold temporarily from the owner, (the perpetrator) takes, operates or exercises control over a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or other person authorized to give consent.”
Additional penalties for auto theft in New Jersey include:
- For a first conviction, an additional $500 fine and loss of a N.J. driver’s license for one year
- For a second conviction, an additional $750 fine and loss of a N.J. driver’s license for two years
- For a third or subsequent conviction, an additional $1,000 fine and loss of a N.J. driver’s license for 10 years.
A person younger than 17 who is convicted of auto theft will have their eligibility to obtain a N.J. driver’s license postponed as described above for one, two or 10 years beginning when they turn 17.
Additionally, if the fair market value of the automobile and its contents at the time it was stolen exceeds $7,500, and the automobile is not recovered, the court may sentence the defendant to pay the value of the loss.
New Jersey auto theft statutes also describe additional crimes and punishments:
- Operating a stolen vehicle “in a manner that creates a risk of injury to any person or a risk of damage to property.” This is a third-degree offense punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
- Entering and riding in a motor vehicle knowing it has been stolen. Just as if you stole the car, this is a fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Soliciting or directing a juvenile (a person younger than 18 years old) to steal a motor vehicle if you are 18 or older. This is a second-degree offense, even if the theft never occurs or you thought the juvenile was older, and is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. This offense cannot be merged with an auto theft charge, meaning a defendant could be found guilty of this offense and the underlying theft.
- Maintaining a facility for the sale of stolen automobiles or their parts. This is a second-degree offense. In addition to 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, this is punishable by the loss of your N.J. driver’s license for 3 to 5 years.
- Leading an auto theft ring. This involves being a leader in a conspiracy to unlawfully take, dispose of, distribute, bring into or transport automobiles as stolen property within New Jersey. The law states that the scheme should be “for profit,” but does not require a profit to have been made. This is a second-degree offense punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or five times the retail value of the automobiles seized at the time of the arrest, whichever is greater.
- Carjacking, which is crime of violence, as opposed to a theft offense. Carjacking involves not only the taking or attempted unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, but also inflicting bodily injury or threatening harm to another. This is a first-degree offense punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison, including at least five years without eligibility for parole.
Auto theft is taken seriously in New Jersey. It’s a bad mistake to hope prosecutors will see that a “kid” caught stealing a car is only guilty of some kind of prank. Particularly, if a stolen car is wrecked — a risk of injury to person or property — the potential punishment is severe.
Prosecutors are obligated professionally to seek convictions in auto theft cases. However, because of the multiple theft offenses that may be charged, and their attendant punishments, the circumstances of the case may allow opportunity to negotiate lesser, or “downgraded,” charges.
An experienced auto theft defense lawyer from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can work to protect you from charges pertaining to a stolen motor vehicle. The sooner our firm is engaged to assist you, the sooner one of our attorneys can step in to protect your rights and develop a credible defense for you.
If you face auto theft charges in New Jersey, you should not answer questions or make statements to police until you have an attorney from our firm present. Without legal advice, it is easy to say something that hurts your case.
Call now if a loved one is being held, or schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at any of our nine New Jersey locations today for a prompt response to your needs.
How We Can Protect You from Auto Theft Charges
Regardless of the type or number of auto theft charges an individual faces, without a guilty plea, the prosecutor must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.
Every defendant has a constitutional right to a robust legal defense that thoroughly challenges the prosecution’s case and seeks the most favorable outcome available to the defendant.
The attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can provide that quality of representation. We will protect your rights and fight for a resolution to your auto theft case that preserves your freedom and your future.
First, if you are being held, we will obtain your release from custody. Then, we will speak with you, the defendant, and investigate further to determine the strength and legitimacy of the case against you.
Our investigation may uncover evidence that supports motions to dismiss or reduce charges, or creates a legal defense, such as:
- Police misconduct, which may be an illegal arrest or search and seizure, or failure to advise of your Miranda rights against self-incrimination
- An alibi, such as your ability to establish that you were somewhere else when the alleged auto theft occurred
- Racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, or other bias on the part of witnesses or authorities
- Mistaken identity, such as due to a faulty suspect lineup
- False or unreliable witness testimony that does not adequately put you in possession or control of the allegedly stolen vehicle
- Inability to establish the alleged victim’s ownership of the vehicle in question
- Your bona fide belief you had the owner’s permission to use the vehicle in question
- “Chain of custody” issues with police or the court’s handling of the vehicle alleged to have been stolen
- False value assigned to the vehicle or property allegedly within it
Because attorneys from our firm have long-standing relationships with prosecutors across the state, we can reach out right away to begin negotiating to dismiss charges or downgrade charges as part of a plea bargain.
Though car theft is a serious offense, we can sometimes have charges reduced or dismissed for a client with a clean record who demonstrates remorse, and if other circumstances are favorable, such as there being no damage to the vehicle, it being recovered quickly, etc.
If a trial is necessary in a car theft case, we will prepare a strong and persuasive defense. If a conviction cannot be avoided, the professional relationships our attorneys have with local New Jersey prosecutors will help us negotiate a minimal sentence.
If possible, we will work to arrange entry into Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), New Jersey’s primary diversion program for nonviolent first-offenders. This is a strict program of court supervision that last for 1 to 3 years on average, but once it is successfully completed, there is no record of the arrest or conviction.
New Jersey’s Veterans’ Diversion Program is a similar diversion program for service members or retirees accused of nonviolent crimes who have been diagnosed with mental illness, or who law enforcement, family members or friends say have exhibited symptoms of mental illness. It may be available to you or your loved one.
Being arrested for an auto theft crime in New Jersey starts a lengthy process that can, but does not have to end in a finding of guilt or time in prison. There is reason to be optimistic if you have the experienced car theft defense attorneys from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall dedicated to your case.
Contact Our New Jersey Auto Theft Defense Lawyers Today
If you have been arrested or face indictment for one or more auto theft crimes in New Jersey, exercise your right to remain silent and contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall as soon as possible. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will start promptly to protect you from the potentially severe consequences of the charges against you.
Don’t risk the potentially severe punishment New Jersey applies in an auto theft case without a strong legal defense crafted specifically for your needs. Contact us at any of our nine New Jersey locations now for a free initial consultation about the legal options available to you.