In New Jersey, when people are accused of stealing property, they might have a vague notion of how they will be treated. However, there are nuances within the law, and the type of charges a person faces will play a significant role in the severity of the consequences. It also could affect the kind of criminal defense strategy to use.
Understanding the potential consequences of theft-related charges
Theft means depriving another person of their property. The value will be a major factor in the case and its penalties. If, for example, a person is charged with shoplifting low-value items that are worth less than $200, they will be charged with the least serious theft-related crime. The penalties incrementally increase based on circumstances and the value of the items. If the item is worth $75,000 or more, it will be a second-degree theft charge. Petty disorderly persons offenses can lead to 30 days in jail. A conventional petty disorderly persons offense can result in six months.
As the value of the property that was stolen rises, so do the penalties. The fines are frequently as problematic as incarceration. The victim’s loss will be calculated and this could dictate the fine a convicted person will pay. With second-degree theft, the $75,000 value is important, but another aspect of the law is if property was stolen by extortion or at least one kilogram of a controlled substance was stolen. It may warrant five to 10 years in jail and a fine of $150,000 or double the amount of loss. All allegations and charges make a viable criminal defense strategy necessary.
Those accused should have a basic understanding of the law
After an arrest for theft, these issues play a critical role in a preferable strategy to combat the charges. A plea bargain that might be offered could be a better option than running the risk of trial. In other cases, there could be a reasonable chance of an acquittal. Assessing the circumstances and having experienced legal assistance can be helpful in making an informed decision.