Under New Jersey criminal statute § 2C:20-3, theft is defined as the “unlawful
taking” or “exercising of control” over another person’s property. The
type of offense and resulting penalty is often linked to the value of the stolen property. Theft
crimes typically result in monetary fines and imprisonment. Moreover, many times the court
will order an offender to pay restitution to the victim(s) of the theft.
Types of Theft Crimes
Following is a list of the different types of theft in New
Jersey, along with the penalties that might accompany a conviction with each type of
Disorderly Persons Theft Offense
Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-2(b)(4), § 2C:20-3, theft can be categorized as a <
i>disorderly persons offense when the value of the stolen property is less than $200.
This is commonly referred to as petty theft.
A person convicted of a disorderly persons theft
offense can be fined up to $1,000 or double the monetary loss of the victim, whichever amount is
greater. The prison term for a DP theft offense cannot exceed six months under New Jersey statute
§ 2C:43-3, § 2C:43-8.
Fourth Degree Theft Crime
When the value of the
stolen goods totals at least $200 but does not exceed $500, it is classified as a fourth degree
theft crime under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-2(b)(3), § 2C:20-3.
An offender of a
fourth degree theft crime can be penalized with a fine not to surpass $10,000 or double the stolen
property value, whichever is higher. The offender can face a prison term up to 18 months
§ 2C:43-3, § 2C:43-6.
Third Degree Theft Crime
The factors that
determine if a theft qualifies as a third degree crime New Jersey include:
The worth of
the stolen property or services is valued between $500 and less than $75,000.
property is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, airplane, horse, or domestic companion animal.
(*There are additional penalties associated with stealing a car including suspension of the
offender’s driver license and increasing fines for repeat offenses.)
The property is a
controlled dangerous substance weighing less than one kilogram and worth less than
The property is taken from the victim, by a person acting as a fiduciary, or by
The stolen property is a public instrument, writing, or record or a New Jersey blank
The property is an access device.
Second Degree Theft
Under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-2(b)(1), § 2C:20-3, theft becomes a second
degree crime if one of the following is true:
the value of the stolen property is worth a
minimum of $75,000
the property is taken by force
the stolen property is a
controlled substance weighing more than one kilogram
the property is human
Penalties for second degree theft crimes include fines doubling the amount of
the property value lost to the victim, or a fine up to $150,000, whichever amount is greater.
An offender can also face prison time from five to ten years for a second degree theft crime (§
2C:43-3, § 2C:43-6.)
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