Theft and fraud crimes can carry serious penalties in New Jersey, especially when high-value goods and services are involved. If you have been charged with fraud or theft offenses in Monmouth County, you need experienced legal representation to help protect your interests and your freedom. Let a Monmouth County theft crime lawyer from Keith Oliver Criminal Law advocate for your legal rights.
When you turn to our seasoned criminal defense firm for help with your case, you can expect fierce advocacy aimed at securing the best possible resolution for you. Our attorneys have a proven track record of helping our clients get theft and fraud charges downgraded or dismissed, as well as negotiating significantly reduced sentences.
If you were arrested for a theft crime in Monmouth County, reach out to our firm today for a free case review.
How a Monmouth County Theft Crime Attorney Can Help You
A Monmouth County theft crime attorney from Keith Oliver Criminal Law can help you face theft or fraud charges and fight for a dismissal or acquittal or another favorable outcome by:
- Investigating your case to recover all available evidence that may assist in your defense
- Examining the facts to identify possible legal and factual challenges to the state’s evidence and theory of the case
- Moving to exclude inadmissible or unlawfully obtained evidence from the state’s case, and filing motions to dismiss or reduce charges when the state cannot support probable cause for your charges
- Helping you pursue diversionary programs, if eligible, that can allow you to avoid a conviction on your charges
- Aggressively pursuing plea negotiations with the prosecution, if appropriate
- Advocating for your case at trial if you decide to contest your charges
Our Attorneys Defend Against a Range of Theft and Fraud Charges
At Keith Oliver Criminal Law, our experienced criminal defense attorneys represent clients facing theft and fraud charges such as:
- Shoplifting – The offense of shoplifting involves taking merchandise from a retail store without paying the purchase price for the item, with the intent to deprive the retailer of the value of the merchandise. Shoplifting is also committed when an individual conceals merchandise on their person with the intent to take the item. Other acts of shoplifting include altering price tags, changing the packaging of merchandise to avoid paying the correct purchase price, or ringing up merchandise at a lower price without authorization from the retailer.
- Burglary – The crime of burglary is generally defined as unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime inside. While burglary is often committed to effect a theft, a burglar may enter a structure with the intent to commit a violent crime, such as an assault or arson.
- Robbery – Robbery refers to any theft that is committed by violence or the threat of violence upon the victim or another person. While a robbery can be accomplished via a physical assault or threat of physical assault, when a robbery involves a weapon, it is often referred to as an armed robbery or aggravated robbery.
- Carjacking – Carjacking is a specific type of robbery where a person steals a car through force or threat of force upon the driver or another lawful occupant of the vehicle.
- Grand theft auto – Grand theft auto is broadly defined as the taking of a vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle’s use or value. Unlike carjacking, grand theft auto normally occurs with unoccupied or unattended vehicles.
- Deception – Theft by deception occurs when someone takes goods or services through the intentional use of false or misleading representations or omissions.
- Extortion – The offense of extortion occurs when someone takes property from another person by purposely threatening to inflict injury, confine or restrain, levy criminal accusations, expose or publicize embarrassing or humiliating information, or take or withhold official action.
- Theft of services – Theft of services occurs when someone purposely obtains services offered for compensation by threat, deception, or other fraudulent means, such as false or fraudulent tendering of payment.
- Receiving stolen property – A person commits the crime of receiving stolen property when they take possession of or bring into the state moveable property that the person knows or believes has been unlawfully taken from the property’s rightful owner.
- Healthcare fraud – Healthcare fraud occurs when a person or party files or undertakes any action to facilitate a false or fraudulent healthcare claim, such as an insurance claim or a Medicare/Medicaid claim, for the purpose of receiving payment of money on that claim.
- Tax fraud – Tax fraud involves intentionally providing false information on a tax return or to tax collection authorities for the purpose of limiting tax liability or securing a tax refund or benefit that the offender is not legally entitled to.
- Credit card fraud – The crime of credit card fraud can involve activity such as using a credit card belonging to another without the cardholder’s authorization, obtaining a credit card using the identity of another, providing false information to obtain a credit card, or purchasing goods and services with a credit card with the intent to ultimately not pay the credit card company or merchant.
- Bank fraud – Bank fraud occurs whenever someone engages in deception for the purpose of obtaining money or property from a financial institution or a financial institution’s account holders.
- Money laundering – Money laundering involves commingling profits from illegal activity such as racketeering or drug distribution or money earmarked for illegal purposes such as terrorism with legitimate funds or other assets for the purpose of concealing the unlawful nature of the laundered funds.
Understanding the Degrees of Theft in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the grading of a theft or fraud charge usually depends on the value of the goods and/or services involved in the case. Crimes can be charged as a disorderly person’s offense, commonly called a misdemeanor, or as an indictable offense, popularly known as a felony. Gradings of theft offenses in New Jersey include:
- Disorderly persons offense: Total value of goods and services involved is less than $200.
- Fourth-degree crime: Total value of goods and services is at least $200 but less than $500.
- Third-degree crime: Total value of goods and services is at least $500 but less than $75,000, or the stolen property includes items such as:
- Motor vehicles
- Horse or domestic service animals
- Controlled dangerous substances
- Credit or debit cards
- Prescription blanks
Theft may also be charged as a third-degree crime when it involves:
- Taking property from the victim’s person
- Taking property via threat (except where the criminal conduct rises to the level of extortion)
- Obtaining healthcare benefits through fraud or deception
- Taking property by breaching a fiduciary obligation
- Second-degree crime: Total value of goods or services involved is $75,000 or more, the property was taken by extortion, the property is a controlled substance exceeding one kilogram, or human remains are stolen.
What Are Common Defenses in Theft and Fraud Cases?
Theft and fraud charges in New Jersey may be defeated by several different kinds of legal or factual defenses. Common defenses that may be used in fraud or theft cases include:
- Mistaken identity, or someone other than the defendant stole the goods or services
- Lawful possession, or the defendant took the goods and services with the permission of its owner or after paying compensation to the owner
- Lack of intent, such as walking out of a store after accidentally forgetting to pay for an item
- Intoxication from alcohol or drugs that prevents the formation of criminal intent
- Intent to return an item or to not permanently deprive an owner of the item’s value, such as failing to return a borrowed item
- Mistake-of-fact, such as when a defendant had a reasonable, good-faith belief that they owned or were entitled to take the goods or services, such as accidentally taking an item like a phone, jacket, or purse that they mistakenly thought was theirs
- Duress, or being forced to commit a crime under threat to oneself or to others
- Entrapment, or being induced to commit a crime the defendant otherwise had no intention to commit
- Unlawfully obtained evidence, including evidence obtained when a defendant was detained or searched without a warrant or reasonable suspicion/probable cause to support a lawful detention or search
- Lack of sufficient evidence, including a lack of evidence to prove that something was stolen
Penalties for Theft and Fraud Convictions
Penalties for a conviction on a theft or fraud charge will depend on the grading of the offense. Sentencing ranges for fraud or theft in New Jersey include:
- Disorderly persons offense: Up to six months in jail and a possible fine of up to $1,000
- Fourth-degree crime: Up to 18 months in jail or prison and a potential fine of up to $10,000
- Third-degree crime: Three to five years’ imprisonment and a potential fine of up to $15,000
- Second-degree crime: Five to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $150,000
In addition to potential fines, a court may order a defendant convicted of theft or fraud to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is meant to repay victims for the financial loss of the goods or services that were stolen. Convicted defendants may also be ordered to serve a term of probation in lieu of incarceration, pay court costs and costs of prosecution, or perform community service.
What Court Would I Have to Appear in for a Fraud Case in Monmouth County?
The degree of the theft or fraud charge will be the sole factor that determines what court an individual will have to appear in to defend the allegations. All indictable offenses, regardless of the degree, must be transferred to the Monmouth County Superior Courthouse, which is located in Freehold for disposition. With that being said, it could be possible for a defense attorney to convince the prosecution at the individual’s Pre-Indictment Conference to downgrade and remand the charges back to the local municipal court for disposition.
All disorderly person’s offense theft-related charges will be litigated in the local municipal court in the municipality where the incident happened.
Our Monmouth County Fraud Attorneys Stand Ready to Fight for You
After you have been charged with fraud or theft, get the experienced legal representation you need to defend your freedom and your future. Contact Keith Oliver Criminal Law today for a free and confidential consultation with a Monmouth County fraud attorney.