One of the most common forms of criminal theft is known as theft by unlawful taking. This offense typically involves someone taking movable property of another with the intention of claiming it for their own benefit. Depending on the value of the property involved, this charge can range from a disorderly persons offense that will be heard in municipal court all the way up the spectrum to a second degree crime that involves up to a decades of state prison exposure that the Essex County Superior Court. Whether you are facing a theft charge in Millburn, South Orange, Caldwell, Belleville, Bloomfield, Livingston, Nutley or even at the Superior Court in Newark, you need to know what you are up against. The following are some of the more common questions which people have when facing this charge. For further assistance, contact our Newark NJ Criminal Defense Office at 973-710-1520 for a free consultation.

Theft Defense Attorneys in Fairfield NJ

How Is The Grading Of A Theft Offense Determined?

As previously stated, the seriousness of a theft by unlawful taking charge hinges on the value of the property involved.  The higher the value of the stolen property, the greater the penalties. If the property involved exceeds $75,000.00, then the charges will be a second degree offense and may result in up to ten (10) years in a New Jersey State Prison. If the value of the property is at least $500 but less than $75,000, the offense is a third degree charge. Theft of property having a value of at least $200 but less than $500 is a fourth degree crime. Property with a value of less than $200 is a disorderly persons offense.

What Types Of Property Fall Under The Unlawful Taking Law In New Jersey?

There are two types of property that can be “unlawfully taken”: (1) Movable and (2) Immovable property.  The elements that the prosecutor must establish are different, however, depending on which category of property is involved.

  • Necessary Evidence When Movable Property Is Involved. There are five factors for the court to consider in a charge for theft of movable property. First and foremost, the property involved must be movable property. Next, the movable property must belong to third party. Third, the county or municipal prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant took, disposed of, or exercised control over the property. Fourth, it must be an unlawful “taking”. Finally, the property needs to have been obtained with the specific purpose to deprive the other person who had an interest in the property. This last element qualifies the offense as a specific intent crime, thus making the mens rea of the defendant of critical importance.
  • Elements Where Immovability Property Is Involved. Alternatively, for immovable property only four elements must be demonstrated to the court for an individual to be convicted of such theft. First, the state must prove an unlawful transfer occurred. Second, there must be a transfer of an interest in immovable property. Next, it must be the immovable property of a third party. Lastly, the Defendant must have acted with the purpose of benefiting himself or another person who was not entitled to that interest.

Is Theft By Unlawful Taking a Felony or Misdemeanor?  in West Orange, NJ?

Felonies are referred to in NJ as indictable crimes and misdemeanors are labeled as disorderly persons offenses.  When dealing with theft by unlawful taking or disposition, the value of the property will determine if the charges are indictable or non-indictable. If the value of the property involved exceeds $200, the offense is an indictable crime. Theft of less than $200 is a misdemeanor (i.e. disorderly persons offense).

Will You Go to Jail If You Are Convicted of Theft By Unlawful Taking or Disposition?

Going to Jail is a possibility in all theft cases although the likelihood is limited if it is a first offense involving a limited dollar amount. In terms of penalties that may be imposed, the length of potential jail/prison based on the degree of the offense. If you are convicted of second degree theft by unlawful taking, you will face up to ten (10) years in jail. If you are convicted of third degree theft, the judge may sentence you to five (5) years in jail. A theft charge of the fourth degree carries up to eighteen (18) months in jail.  Disorderly persons theft by unlawful taking, exposes you to up to six (6) months in jail.

If you or your loved one has been arrested and charged with theft anywhere in Essex County, our attorneys are available now at 973-710-1520 to assist you.