Rumson NJ Auto Theft Defense Attorneys
Stealing a motor vehicle is legally quite different from many other theft crimes in New Jersey. Specifically, the degree of a charge for shoplifting, theft of movable property, or theft by deception is variable depending on the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. Not so for auto theft. In fact, if you steal a car worth $8,000 or $80,000, the charges and potential penalties you face remain the same. Although auto theft is addressed in New Jersey’s general theft statute (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3), it is always considered a third-degree felony, which may result in a prison sentence ranging from 3 to 5 years for those found guilty. Notably, these offenses also entail collateral consequences such as a period of driver’s license suspension and more significant fines than other third-degree crimes.
There are many ways to defend against an auto theft accusation, including the consent of the owner, lack of intent, and temporary, as opposed to permanent, deprivation. The last defense coincides with a separate instance known as “joyriding,” which is a distinct crime in New Jersey that does not entail permanent deprivation of a vehicle. Before you embark upon your journey through the complex legal process, it is invaluable to speak with a knowledgeable defense attorney.
With previous experience as a Monmouth County Prosecutor, the head of our criminal defense team, Partner Charles J. Uliano, and his fellow attorneys provide a comprehensive view of your case in order to develop the most effective defense strategy. Our formula, which requires examining your case from every perspective, has proved successful countless times in courts throughout Monmouth County and New Jersey. To speak with one of our highly experienced lawyers, contact our offices in West Long Branch or Asbury Park at 732-440-3950, or call toll free at 888-328-9131 for additional information.
Auto Theft in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3
As explained above, auto theft is subsumed within section N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, entitled “theft by unlawful taking.” Under this statute, it is unlawful to take a motor vehicle with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of his or her property. A violation of this nature is a crime of the third degree, which is punishable by a prison sentence of between 3 and 5 years.
Although other third-degree crimes are associated with a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders, those charged with auto theft do not receive the benefit of this presumption. Essentially, this means that a defendant with no prior criminal record will likely not be considered a good candidate for probation or a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention.
Additional penalties for auto theft include suspension of driving privileges and significantly increased fines. The period of driver’s license suspension, as well as the amount of fines imposed, are contingent upon the number of prior convictions that a defendant has for this crime (if applicable). See below for a detailed outline of these penalties.
Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft in New Jersey
In addition to a term of incarceration, those convicted of auto theft are subject to the following penalties:
First Offense: 1-year license suspension and minimum fine of $500
Second Offense: 2-year period of license suspension and minimum fine of $750
Third Offense: 10-year period of license suspension and minimum fine of $1,000
Call Monmouth County NJ Auto Theft Lawyers to Discuss Your Case
The attorneys at Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh have been protecting the rights and reputations of those accused of crimes in Monmouth County for over 5 decades. With a rich tradition of excellence in Monmouth County, we utilize our knowledge and experience to position our clients for the best possible outcomes. Contact our Asbury Park or West Long Branch offices anytime at 732-440-3950 to discuss your case. Our expertise is at your service.