Princeton NJ Auto Theft Lawyer
With Offices in Pennington and Trenton
One of the most serious theft crimes in New Jersey involves the unlawful taking of an automobile. New Jersey lawmakers take auto theft so seriously that they mandated the imposition of severe penalties on anyone convicted of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle. While the penalties for most theft offenses are based upon the value of the property taken, auto theft is always classified as a third degree crime. This means that you can be sentenced to 5 years in NJ State Prison regardless of the value of the vehicle. Even if you took a broken-down car that was barely running and worth less than $100, you can still be charged with a felony and sentenced to a very long time behind bars.
Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson is a highly respected law firm that has served clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for more than 40 years. Our lawyers appear regularly in courtrooms throughout in Mercer County, NJ, including Hopewell Township, Pennington, and Ewing. You can count on us to do whatever is needed to fight your auto theft charges and keep you out of prison. Call KCR now to begin your defense.
N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3: Theft by Unlawful Taking of an Automobile in Mercer County
Auto theft in New Jersey is addressed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. It is against the law to take a vehicle with the intention of permanently depriving the lawful owner of the vehicle.
A critical element of the offense is that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. If your attorney can show that you intended to return the vehicle at some point, it might be possible to get the charge downgraded.
It is an affirmative defense to an auto theft charge that you had the consent of the owner to take the vehicle. As a result, it might be possible to get the charges dismissed if it can be shown that you had permission from the owner. This often happens when a parent reports their car stolen, only to realize later that their son or daughter had taken it.
Penalties for Auto Theft in Princeton, NJ
The penalties for theft offenses in New Jersey are ordinarily determined by the value of the property taken. However, auto theft is treated differently under NJ law because the unlawful taking of an automobile is always classified as at least a third degree felony. As a result, anyone convicted of stealing a motor vehicle in the State of New Jersey is subject to a term of incarceration of 3–5 years in NJ State Prison. This is true even if the vehicle you stole had little to no value.
Auto theft charges can also result in monetary fines and suspension of your driving privileges. The ranges of these additional penalties vary, depending upon the number of prior offenses:
- First Offense: $500 fine and suspension of driver’s license for 1 year.
- Second Offense: $750 fine and suspension of driver’s license for 2 years.
- Third Offense: $1,000 fine and suspension of driver’s license for 10 years.
If you are convicted of auto theft, you may also be ordered to pay restitution of up to $15,000. However, if the value of the motor vehicle and its contents is greater than $7,500, you could face additional fines. That’s because NJ judges have the authority to impose higher fines when the stolen vehicle is not recovered or is damaged beyond repair. You may even be required to pay restitution in the amount of the total value of the vehicle and its contents at the time of the theft.
Related Charge: Joyriding in Lawrence NJ
Even if you took another person’s vehicle without their consent, it might be possible to get the charges downgraded. That’s because New Jersey law makes a distinction between the permanent withholding of property and the temporary withholding of property. As a result, if your attorney can show that you intended to return the vehicle, you might only be guilty of the lesser offense of joyriding.
Related Charge: Carjacking in Princeton NJ
Carjacking is technically considered a robbery offense; it is a special kind of robbery that involves both auto theft and the threat of violence. Since carjacking poses a unique threat to public safety, NJ lawmakers imposed severe penalties on anyone who inflicts bodily injury, uses force, or threatens a vehicle occupant while attempting to unlawfully take a motor vehicle.
If you are convicted of carjacking in New Jersey, you may be sentenced to 10–30 years in NJ State Prison.
Free Consultation with Trenton NJ Auto Theft Attorneys
The attorneys at Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson can help you avoid the most serious consequences of an auto theft charge. Call us today to discuss your case, or fill out the online contact form to schedule an in-person meeting at our offices in Trenton or Pennington.