How serious is theft, robbery, and carjacking in New Jersey? What are the mandatory minimum state prison sentences?
Our criminal defense law firm represents persons charged with crimes and offenses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A very common class of crimes and offenses are those involving theft. It is important to understand that a theft charge in New Jersey can range from a disorderly persons offense to an indictable crime of the second, third or fourth degree depending on the value of item in question. In addition, a theft which involves force is considered a robbery and in some cases, carjacking, if it involves a car or motor vehicle.
How serious is shoplifting charge in New Jersey? (See – 2C:20-9)
Shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense when the merchandise in question is less than $200. If the value of the merchandise is more than $200, but less than $500, it is a crime of the 4th degree. If the item’s value is over $500 but less than $75,000.00, it is a crime of the third degree and a crime of the second degree if the value is over $75,000.00
In most situations, a person who is convicted of shoplifting will not serve a substantial period of time in jail or State prison. There are exceptions, however, based on a person’s prior criminal history and the amount in question
Theft – Unlawful Taking – Movable & Immovable Property (2C: 20-3)
A theft pf movable property (property of another) is graded as a crime of the second degree if the value of the item is over $75,000 or the property is taken by extortion. Theft is a crime of the third degree if the item is more than $500.00 but less than $75,000 if the item in question is a gun or firearm.
What are the other common theft crimes in New Jersey
Theft by Deception (See 2C:20-4) – Grading based on value
Theft of Services (See 2C:20-8) Grading based on value
Receiving Stolen Property (See 2C:20-7) Grading based on value unless it’s a gun or firearm then it’s a crime of the 3rd degree
Wrongful Access (otherwise known as Access Device Fraud (See 2C:30-31)
Access to device fraud is a type of theft which involved the use of electronic devices to obtain property or services issued to another person. In these situations, this offense constitutes a crime of the third degree.
What is Forgery (See 2C:21-1)
A common charge that is associated with fraud is forgery (See 2C:21-1). Fraud occurs when a person with the intent to defraud or injure someone else alters any writing without that person’s authority. Forgery also occurs when a person makes, completes, executes, or issues or transfers any writing to purport to be the act of another person. Forgery is a crime of the third degree if it involves the use or illegal transfer money, security or other instruments issued by the government.
Maximum Penalties for Theft Offenses and Crimes in New Jersey
A person charged with disorderly person offenses faces a maximum of a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail whereas a person charged with a petty disorderly offense faces up to 30 days in jail and a maximum of a $500 fine. Indictable offenses or crimes have much more serious criminal consequences which are as follows:
- 1st degree—20 years in state prison, $200,000 fine
- 2nd degree—10 years in state prison, $150,000 fine
- 3rd degree—5 years in state prison, $15,000 fine
- 4th degree—18 months in jail, $10,000 fine
What is the difference between robbery and theft?
Robbery is a theft committed by force; it is considered a violent felony crime (Title 18, Section 3701.) The degree of force is irrelevant when it comes to being accused of robbery, but it will determine the severity of the charge. If the perpetrator inflicts or intentionally puts the victim in fear of serious bodily injury (or death) during the course of an unlawful “taking” (theft) it is crime of the first degree in New Jersey otherwise it is a crime of second degree. Unlike a theft charge (taking without force), the value of the item taken is irrelevant. It is the force element that makes a theft a robbery.
Carjacking in New Jersey
Carjacking (2C:15-2) is a crime of the first degree in New Jersey and upon a conviction for such this crime, the defendant is subject to a 10 – 30 year state prison term.
Carjacking and Robbery are No Early Release Act (NERA) Crimes in New Jersey along with the following crimes:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated Manslaughter
- Vehicular homicide
- Aggravated arson
- Aggravated sexual assault
What is a NERA mandatory minimum state prison term?
NERA offenses require that a Defendant who is convicted of any of the above offenses serve a minimum 85% of the term imposed before the possibility of parole. The above stated crimes are crimes of the first and second degree in New Jersey where the maximum punishment ranges from 10 to 20 years. This means that a person who is sentenced to a 10-year state prison term for a crime of the second degree (the maximum term) would not be eligible for parole until 8.5 years time had passed. If a person was sentenced under a first-degree penalty where the maximum penalty is 20 years, he or she would have to serve approximately 17.5 years of state incarceration before being eligible for parole. Keep in mind that New Jersey also has mandatory minimum sentencing under its Graves Act for all unlawful possession of handgun and firearm cases (2C:39-5.)
These are mandatory minimums, and the Judge is not permitted to deviate from them pursuant to New Jersey criminal statute. If a person were to negotiate a plea for a NERA offense, they would only be able to negotiate the top number and not the parole eligibility number. NERA crimes are extremely serious in New Jersey and this is why you should explore the possibility of lower graded sentencing options (pled to a first, but sentence is a second) if there are no triable issues in your criminal case or no viable pre-trial Motions, including Motions to Suppress; Evidence due to a violation of your constitutional rights under the 4th and 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution.
With any first or second degree offense in New Jersey, there is a presumption of state incarceration and therefore it is unlikely that convicted person would receive a non-custodial period of probation in these cases.
5 Year Period of Parole Supervision
NERA also requires that a convicted person serve a mandatory 5-year period of parole following release from state prison if convicted of a first-degree crime and a 3-year parole if convicted of a second-degree crime.
If you are charged with a theft, fraud, or robbery charge in New Jersey contact our criminal defense law firm today!
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