Theft Crimes in New Jersey

The penalties if convicted of a Theft Crime in New Jersey depend on the circumstances of the theft. The degree of the crime and the penalty depends on the value of the property or the type of property stolen.  N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2(c) provides the grading of theft offenses.

A theft crime in New Jersey is of the second degree if:

  • The amount involved is $75,000.00 or more;
  • The property is taken by extortion;
  • The property stolen is a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-2 and the quantity is in excess of one kilogram;
  • The property stolen is a person’s benefits under Federal or State law, or from any other source, which the Department of Human Services or an agency acting on its behalf has budgeted for the person’s health care and the amount involved is $75,000.00 or more.

A theft crime in New Jersey is of the third degree if:

  • The amount involved exceeds $500.00 but is less than $75,000.00;
  • The property stolen is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, horse, domestic companion animal or airplane;
  • The property stolen is a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as defined in N.J.S.2C:35-2 and the amount involved is less than $75,000.00 or is undetermined and the quantity is one kilogram or less;
  • It is from the person of the victim;
  • It is in breach of an obligation by a person in his capacity as a fiduciary;
  • It is by threat not amounting to extortion;
  • It is of a public record, writing or instrument kept, filed or deposited according to law with or in the keeping of any public office or public servant;
  • The property stolen is a person’s benefits under Federal or State law, or from any other source, which the Department of Human Services or an agency acting on its behalf has budgeted for the person’s health care and the amount involved is less than $75,000.00;
  • The property stolen is any real or personal property related to, necessary for, or derived from research, regardless of value, including, but not limited to, any sample, specimens and components thereof, research subject, including any warm-blooded or cold-blooded animals being used for research or intended for use in research, supplies, records, data or test results, prototypes or equipment, as well as any proprietary information or other type of information related to research;
  • The property stolen is a New Jersey Prescription Blank;
  • The property stolen consists of an access device or a defaced access device (ATM Card); or
  • The property stolen consists of anhydrous ammonia and the actor intends it to be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

A theft crime in New Jersey is of the fourth degree if:

  • Theft constitutes a crime of the fourth degree if the amount involved is at least $200.00 but does not exceed $500.00.

A theft crime in New Jersey is a disorderly persons offense if:

  • The amount involved was less than $200.00 or;
  • The property stolen is an electronic vehicle identification system transponder.

Common Theft Crimes

Common theft related offenses in New Jersey include:

  • Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3)
  • Theft by Deception (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4)
  • Theft by Extortion (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-5)
  • Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered by Mistake (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-6)
  • Receiving Stolen Property (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7)
  • Theft of Services (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8)
  • Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Property (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-9)
  • Unlawful Taking of Means of Conveyance (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-10)
  • Shoplifting (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11)
  • Computer Theft (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-25)

Theft vs. Fraud

Forgery and Fraudulent Practices are prohibited conduct in New Jersey. Forgery and Fraud crimes are in the same vein as “theft” crimes, but the conduct prohibited relates specifically to misrepresentations and conduct that includes the “purpose to defraud”. Typically, individuals who are alleged to have participated in Fraud-related conduct will also be charged with “Theft”. For instance, a “purse snatching” matter is theft, while the passing of a bad check is Forgery and Theft. As such, an individual accused of stealing a purse will likely be charged with Theft. The passing of a bad check will commonly result in a charge of Forgery and Theft.

Fraud-related offenses can vary in their degree of severity based on the specifics of the offense and the amount that was taken.  Some of the common fraud charges include:

  • Forgery (N.J.S.A. 2C: 21-1)
  • Bad Checks (N.J.S.A. 2C: 21-5)
  • Credit Card Fraud (N.J.S.A. 2C: 21-6)
  • Insurance Fraud (N.J.S.A. 2C: 21-4.6)

Learn more about the penalties and defenses for fraud crimes in New Jersey.