Stealing or shoplifting is often considered to be a relatively minor offense. After all, many teenagers dare each to steal items and many items taken are worth relatively little. However, stealing even low-value items can lead to extremely serious penalties in New Jersey if you have prior convictions. For this reason and more, you should always do everything you can to avoid even one single theft conviction on your record and our experienced NJ criminal defense attorney can help you do so whenever possible.
Theft Penalties can Escalate
One recent case demonstrates how serious the consequences for theft crimes can increase for repeat offenders. One man was arrested for stealing candy bars worth about $31.00. While this would normally be considered petty theft, the man allegedly had five theft conviction on his record. Prosecutors charged him as a “quad” habitual offender, which means he may be facing a 20-year to life prison sentence–all for trying to steal $31.00 worth of candy. While this did not occur in New Jersey, penalties can significantly increase for repeat theft in our state, as well.
Theft Laws in NJ
The penalties for a first-time theft crime are as follows in NJ:
- Less than $200 – Disorderly persons offense, maximum $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail;
- $200 to $500 – Fourth degree crime, maximum $10,000 fine, up to 18 months in jail;
- $500 to $75,000 – Third degree crime, maximum $15,000 fine, three to five years in jail;
- More than $75,000 – Second degree crime, maximum $150,000 fine, five to ten years in jail.
Often, an attorney is able to negotiate probation instead of jail time for first-time theft offenders and a much smaller fine than the maximum allowed.
For repeat offenses, however, it is more likely that a judge will increase the fines and sentence you to time in jail. For a third offense, jail time is mandatory so offenders will certainly spend time behind bars if convicted.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney David C. Barry Today for a Consultation
If you are accused of stealing, it is important to realize there are many defenses that may be raised to avoid a conviction on your record and limit the consequences you face. If you have previous theft convictions, you need an attorney working on your case as soon as possible due to the potentially harsh consequences. At the office of David C. Barry, Attorney at Law, we have helped many people facing theft charges, including repeat offenders. Please call for help today at 732-238-8686.