Automobile theft is one of the most serious theft crimes in New Jersey. With car values reaching six figures in some cases, auto theft is viewed as a lucrative criminal venture. To stop this behavior, the New Jersey legislature enacted N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. Under New Jersey law, auto theft will be prosecuted as a third degree crime and carry between 3-5 years in prison. This is regardless of the car’s value. You could have stolen a junk car worth two nickes and still be charged with the third degree felony offense of auto theft in Ocean County.
Our law firm has garnered respect amongst our peers for our relentless approach to criminal defense. We possess the ability to litigate your case, should trial be necessary. Contact our Point Pleasant office today and let us begin crafting a defense strategy specific to your needs. The initial consultation is free of charge. Call 848-238-2100.
Auto Theft Law N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3
In New Jersey, a person is guilty of auto theft if he or she unlawfully takes, or exercises unlawful control over, the automobile of another with purpose to deprive him thereof.
What is crucial to any auto theft case is proof of the defendant’s intent. Specifically, the prosecutor must show that the defendant knowingly took or exercised unlawful control over the motor vehicle. A person acts “knowingly” with respect to the nature of his/her conduct or the attendant circumstances if he/she is aware that his/her conduct is of that nature, or that such circumstances exist, or he/she is aware of a high probability of their existence. A person acts knowingly with respect to a result ofhis/her conduct if he/she is aware that it is practically certain that his/her conduct will cause such a result.
Knowingly is a state of mind and cannot be seen and can only be determined by inference from conduct, words or acts. Therefore, it is not necessary that witnesses be produced by the State to testify that a defendant said that he/she knowingly did something. His/Her knowledge may be gathered from his/her acts and his/her conduct and from all he/she said and did at the particular time and place and from all the surrounding circumstances reflected in the testimony.
Penalties for Auto Theft in Jackson, NJ
Unlike other theft crimes, auto theft penalties are not determined by the value of the property stolen. Instead, auto theft is always treated as a third degree felony offense. Whether you stole a junk car or a Maserati, the penalties remain the same (though the victims may be different). As a third degree offense, you will be facing between 3 and 5 years in prison, restitution up the $15,000.00, as well as the following:
First Offense: 1 year license suspension and a $500 fine.
Second Offense: 2 year license suspension and $750 fine.
Third Offense:10 year license suspension and a $1,000 fine.
If you have been charged with auto theft in Ocean County, then you may also be facing charges for Joyriding or Carjacking (link). Both of these are felony indictable offenses that will enhance your exposure to additional years in prison, high fines and other punitive penalties. In particular, carjacking may carry up to 30 years in a New Jersey State Prison. For assistance with your auto theft, joyriding, carjacking and other theft crimes, call the Toms River Trial Attorneys at 848-238-2100. With years of litigation experience, our firm is well-equipped to represent you or your loved ones in their criminal case.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.