NJ Criminal Defense Attorney & Former Prosecutor
An innocent act of picking up a mislaid or lost piece of property or a mistaken delivery, can turn into a criminal offense under certain circumstances. If you or loved one find yourself in such a situation, and have been arrested, charged or indicted for theft of property under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-6, our criminal lawyers can assist you. Our law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, represent individuals charged with theft statewide including Monmouth County, Union County, Somerset County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Essex County and Hudson County. A lawyer with our firm is available to answer your questions and provide you with the necessary information concerning your charge. Initial consultations with our law office are always without charge, so please do not hesitate to contact us and speak to one of our attorneys. The following information is provided to assist you in understanding the law and issues involved.
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:20-6, captioned Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake “a person who comes into control of property of another that he knows to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property or the identity of the recipient is guilty of theft if, knowing the identity of the owner and with purpose to deprive said owner thereof, he converts the property to his own use.”
Explanation of the Law
- Assumption of Control: This provision of the law limits criminal responsibility to individuals who actually take control of lost property. There is no liability under the law for mere handling or knowledge that the property has been mislaid, lost or delivered in error. Where there is any issue as to “control,” an attorney with our office will explore every opportunity for a defense on this front.
- Intent: The requirement of purposeful conduct is particularly complicated with respect to theft of property lost, mislaid or delivered in error. First, the prosecutor must establish that the accused knew that the property was lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property. Second, the prosecutor must establish that the accused knew the identity of the true owner. A complaint or indictment under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-6 is not sustainable if the accused lacks knowledge of the identity of the true owner. Third, the state must demonstrate that the accused intended to deprive the actual owner of his or her property. An accused must possess this state of mind in all three respects or the charge is misplaced. Accordingly, possession of property that is believed to be abandoned or property held with the intention of returning it to the true owner, will not suffice under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-6. It must be kept in mind, however, that an accused cannot withhold property for a substantial period. Our attorneys will make sure that the state establishes intent in all three respects.
- Material Elements: (i) The subject property was under the control of the accused; (ii) the property was lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake; (iii) the accused knew of the mistake; (iv) the accused knew the identity of the true owner; (v) the accused intended to deprive the owner of the property; and (vi) the accused converted the property to his own use.
The lawyers at our law office are prepared to assist individuals accused of theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake. A lawyer is available to speak to you immediately about your Monmouth County, Union County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Somerset County, Mercer County, Essex County or Hudson County case.