Theft Charges - The Basics

Theft charges expose you to prison. In addition, a theft charge conviction will hurt your ability to get & maintain employment. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may face deportation for a theft charge conviction.

In this article, we will discuss various theft crimes & penalties.

A theft charges conviction will affect your ability to get & maintain employment when your background check is conducted.

As Hackensack criminal lawyers, we represent clients charged with theft charges in Bergen County and the neighboring three counties, Essex, Hudson, & Passaic County.

If you are facing theft charges, we understand that you are concerned & we will help you. 

Theft Charges- Various Types

It is important to know that a theft conviction will show up on a background check. Your trustworthiness will suffer & as a result, you will struggle to find employment.

Theft charges fall into the following categories:

  • Auto Theft – Unlawfully taking another person’s car. (NJSA 2C:20-2.1.)

  • Credit Card Theft – Possessing, without authorization, another person’s credit card with the intent to use it or sell it. (NJSA 2C:21-6).
  • Theft By Deception – creates or reinforces a false impression, including false impressions as to the law, value, intention or other states of mind in order to acquire another person’s property (NJSA 2C:20-4.)
  • Extortion – A person is guilty of theft by extortion if he purposely and unlawfully obtains property of another by extortion.
  • 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 the purpose to deprive said owner thereof, he converts the property to his own use. (NJSA 2C:20-6)
  • Receiving Stolen Property – A person is guilty of theft if he knowingly receives or brings into this State movable property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it is probably stolen. (NJSA 2C:20-7)
  • Robbery – A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:
    (1) Inflicts bodily injury or uses force upon another; or
    (2) Threatens another with or purposely puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury; 
    (3) Commits or threatens immediately to commit any crime of the first or second degree. (NJSA 2C:15-1)
  • Shoplifting – Under NJSA 2C:20-11, there are six different ways that you can commit shoplifting. We devoted an entire page to shoplifting crimes.

Theft Charges - Penalties

Next, you need to understand the penalties you face if you’re charged with theft. The penalties range according to the NJ crime degree your facing.

For example, first-degree crimes carry a ten-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

On the other hand, disorderly persons convictions carry up to six months in county jail.

Other States
New Jersey
Degree
Presumption of Incarceration
Prison Time
Felony
Indictable Offense
First
                Yes
10 + years
Felony
Indictable Offense
Second
                Yes
5 – 10 years
Felony
Indictable Offense
Third
                 No
3-5 years
Felony
Indictable Offense
Fourth
                 No
Up to 18 months

Theft Charges - Legal Defenses

If you’re facing a theft charge, you have the following options:

Plead Guilty

You will have to admit what you did under oath. This option will leave you with a criminal conviction & it will have to be expunged. Until then, please know that it will show up on a background check.

Plead Guilty to a Downgraded Charge

This is one aspect of plea bargaining. Instead of pleading guilty to a theft charge, we will work out a deal with the prosecutor where you plea guilty to a lesser offense.

Go To Trial & Get Acquitted

This means that a judge or jury listened to all of the evidence & decided that you are not guilty of the underlying theft charge.

Go To Trial & Get Convicted

This means that the judge listened to all of the evidence & decided that you did commit a theft charge.

Dismissing Your Theft Charges

There are situations where we can get your theft charges dismissed. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

Theft Charges - Legal Defenses

New Jersey theft charge lawyers rely on different legal strategies when defending against these types of charges. A strong legal defense exists in New Jersey’s criminal code. It is the “Claim of Right defense”. [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2(c)]
You can defend against theft charges if you:
1. Were not aware that the property or service belonged to another; or 
2. If you acted under an honest claim of right to the property or service involved.
 
This means that you never had the intention of depriving anyone of anything. You did not know that someone owned the property.

To best defend you, we also do the following:

  • Review the Evidence Against You – this involves analyzing every piece of evidence that points the finger towards you. We identify the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case & develop a trial strategy.
  • Conduct Our Own Investigation – we gather every piece of evidence that supports your innocence. This consists of speaking with witnesses & gather surveillance footage. 
  • Fight to Keep Evidence Out – includes situations where you were illegally searched or question in violation of your 4th Amendment rights.
  • Plea Bargain  – we devoted an entire page to the art of negotiating a plea deal.

Theft Charges & Immigration Consequences

For immigration purposes, theft charges are classified as “crimes of moral turpitude”. This means that if you are not a United States citizen, and you are convicted of shoplifting, you may find yourself in Removal (deportation) Proceedings.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR), this means that you hold a green card. Again, if you get convicted of shoplifting, you may lose your green card very easily.

A theft conviction reflects poorly on your character. Some people argue that a “thief” is not to be trusted. As a result, your character may come into question during your immigration interview.

Immigration officials expect non-U.S. citizens making an application to live and work in the United States to be of high moral character. A theft conviction will really hurt you. Make an appointment to meet with one of our New Jersey theft charges lawyers today.

If I'm convicted at trial, can I appeal?

Yes.

Although appeals can be expensive, it’s definitely worth the money to try.
If you feel that you didn’t get a fair trial or that certain evidence was irrelevant, an appeal is a way to go.
I highly recommend that you hire an aggressive, criminal lawyer to represent you for your appeal.
There are specific steps that must be taken to (intelligently) file an appeal.
Please do not try to do this alone, get help!

Final Thoughts

As you have read, there are many types of theft charges in New Jersey.

Every case is unique. Since a theft conviction will seriously affect your ability to get & maintain employment, you need to fight these charges.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Practice Areas

Below, you will find a few of our practice areas.

Areas We Serve

Our Hackensack criminal lawyers represent clients in Bergen County & nearby counties & cities. 

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

Peyrouton Law
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Edie Nolan
Edie Nolan
21:52 18 Apr 20
The office of Peyrouton Law Helped my family so much, I can't put it into words how much. The day we walked into the office we explained our situation to Alan and his associates and they took on our situation like we were family.
Edward Estupinan
Edward Estupinan
18:04 09 Mar 20
The Peyrouton Law firm is the place to go to if you need great representation. Extremely knowledgeable, honest and prompt. Alan and Kevin got our family through a very difficult and emotional matter quickly and with ease. The office was highly professional, responsive and compassionate. They kept us informed and advised us wisely throughout the entire process. I highly recommend this firm. Karen & Ed E.
traviscp longendyke
traviscp longendyke
15:41 04 Feb 20
Hey, this is Travis. Hope all is well with you guys. I just wanted to reach out and truly thank you guys for everything you did for me and my family and also believing in me at a point when I barely believed in myself. I am off the "conditional probation", and everything is over with. We have our three little beautiful girls (which The youngest just turned one a few days ago), we both have amazing jobs where we are very blessed to be making what we are making for our family, and we are in the process and about to go into contract with buying our first home (a BEAUTIFUL 400,000 dollar home).... Lizzy and myself just wanted to truly thank you guys for believing in me and doing everything you could so I can be in this amazing spot in life that my family is in. I owe a lot of this to you guys and I hope you know what you do does not go unappreciated and you guys are making a huge impact and you guys are a huge help on certain people's lives. This above was a text message that I just sent to Alan and Kevin. For anyone who is looking for AMAZING people to represent you, that will literally do anything and everything they can for you to receive the best outcome, then these are the people you want, I PROMISE you that. They literally made miracles happen on my multiple cases. Alan from day one made me promise him that I would do everything I could to better my life. I did that and in return I received the most amazing lawyers who went above and beyond for me and my family. I couldn’t of created a better pair of lawyers to represent me. If anyone is looking for great results on your case please give Alan and Kevin a shot and I promise you (because I owe a lot of my success right now to these men) that you will not be disappointed and they will do everything they can for you.
Jose Nose
Jose Nose
22:17 03 Feb 20
Alan and Kevin helped me avoid prison on huge drug charges. Then, they beat my DUI case. They’re the perfect combination of aggressive and humble lawyers. Fees are very reasonable and they really cared about me. I totally recommend. My lawyers for life.
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MY LAWYERS FOR LIFE!!!!!Alan and Kevin are the Best!!!!!!Most genuine lawyers I’ve ever met...they were very detailed and kept me informed about the process every step of the way... These guys have a genuine passion for law and will work endlessly to ensure a favorable outcome... they treat you like family which is what everyone needs when faced with a situation...
Erico Pilates
Erico Pilates
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Thank you Dr Peyrouton for your professional advice on my closing issue and for helping me with my litigation case. I am super grateful for a speedy successful outcome on this process.
njfirearms
njfirearms
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Alan and his team have worked magic on cases and are the easiest to work with of the attorney's I know. I am impressed by how they get things done and their success with cases large and small. Always the first call I make when either I or my clients need counsel.
yuksel
yuksel
19:59 19 Dec 19
I was arrested for a 3rd-degree felony case. I spent 5 hours searching for a good NJ criminal defense lawyer online. Every lawyer I called was in a rush and demanded a lot of money. I didn't like how many of these lawyers talked to me either.When I discovered Peyrouton Law, I checked their reviews. Every review was perfect and I was skeptical. Nobody can be so perfect.I talked to Alan on the phone and made a free appointment to come in and see him.Alan and Kevin explained everything to me very clearly. They answered all of my questions patiently. I never felt rushed.Because of my special circumstances, they took my case for an extremely reasonable flat fee. Honestly, they treated me like a brother.Within a few weeks, they were able to get my felony case downgraded to a misdemeanor.Long story short, I ended up paying a small fine for a municipal ordinance.As a client, I only had to go to court only three times.Even though my case is over, I will continue to keep in contact with Alan and Kevin.I consider them excellent people and they've become trusted friends.If any of my friends or family members ever need a lawyer, I will just grab them by the hand and take them to see Alan and Kevin.You know, when I got arrested, I was humiliated, lost my vacation time, and lost a lot of sleep but the best part of this whole thing is that I made two great friends for life...
Brian Galbraith
Brian Galbraith
23:43 12 Dec 19
Alan and Kevin were the first attorneys I've ever needed for any criminal matter in my life. I was speaking with other potential attorneys for my hire and they were all very nasty and and in a hurry. upon hiring Allen he appointed Kevin Brown to my case. Kevin always listened to everything I had to say, took every detail into account and given that I work for a government agency he saved my career from going into the gutter. I had a felony dropped down to a disorderly persons offense and drop down finally to a municipal ordinance charge which leaves me with no criminal record. I could not thank either of you enough and I don't think that the retainer fee was even enough. Alan and Kevin both saved me and I am forever grateful. if you want good results and honest advice with a touch of hospitality and great customer service hire them now, get their business card and keep it in your wallet just in case. Five stars well-deserved.
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