If the court charges you or someone you know with receiving stolen property, you may wonder what happens next. New Jersey laws lay out several consequences you might face after an accusation. Still, it is possible to avoid many of these outcomes if you have an experienced attorney by your side.
Below, one of our criminal defense lawyers from Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., in Watchung, New Jersey, discusses the consequences of receiving stolen property.
Is It Illegal To Possess Stolen Property?
Yes, it is illegal to possess stolen property under specific circumstances.
New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7) dictates that a person is guilty of theft if they knowingly possess or transport stolen property within state jurisdiction.
Knowingly is the key word here.
If you know you are in unlawful possession of personal property, the court could consider you complicit in the theft. Additionally, you can face charges if you believe another person stole an item before gifting or selling it to you. Depending on the severity of the crime, you could face felony charges with long-lasting consequences.
You could receive a second-degree theft conviction if a judge or jury should find you guilty of possessing property worth $75,000 or more. If you stole an item via extortion, or the property is a listed controlled substance (see list), you could also qualify for a second-degree conviction.
Those guilty of second-degree theft face five to ten years of incarceration.
The consequences of a third-degree theft offense are less severe than for second-degree. Anyone accused of this crime must unlawfully possess more than $500 – but less than $75,000 – worth of property from the rightful owner. The property in question must include any or all of the following:
- A firearm
- Motor vehicles (including cars, boats, or airplanes)
- A domesticated animal
- A controlled substance that weighs less than a kilogram
In this case, the maximum incarceration for receiving stolen property is five years.
Fourth Degree Consequences
A fourth-degree theft is punishable by up to 18 months in state prison. A court must find you guilty of possessing $200-$500 in stolen property.
A disorderly persons offense is a misdemeanor. To be found guilty, you generally must possess small-value items (usually stolen through shoplifting). In this case, you may be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
While you could face up to six months in jail, people receive lighter punishments such as probation. Still, these charges and subsequent offenses can remain visible on a background check for the remainder of your life, if convicted.
What To Do After an Accusation
If the police arrest you for possessing stolen property, request a lawyer immediately.
It’s wise to exercise your right to remain silent before speaking to an attorney. This practice ensures that you do not self-incriminate during a police investigation.
How Can an Attorney Help?
An attorney is your first line of defense against theft charges. They will gather witnesses, evidence, and other essential resources to help clear you of guilt or minimize potential consequences.
Attorneys strongly discourage self-representation in court. Often, people on trial do not have the legal knowledge or experience to navigate their own defense without further incriminating themselves. A reputable attorney will ensure that you understand your rights and the consequences of your case.
A lawyer can also help you expunge a disorderly persons conviction if a court finds you guilty. This process can be tedious. Still, many people restore their records after paying fines to the court and completing their entire probation.
No matter the challenge, a lawyer serves as a valuable asset and will stick with you until the end.
Speak To a Lawyer in New Jersey Today
Facing a felony offense can be intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t need to navigate the legal process alone. At Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., we’ve represented hundreds of clients who have been accused of both minor and severe criminal charges.
Our office provides a safe environment in which to discuss your case and receive legal counseling. No matter which charges you face, we will treat you respectfully, and we do not pass judgment on our clients.
Choosing a criminal defense lawyer doesn’t need to be overwhelming. The attorneys at our firm bring years of experience to your case, so you can be confident that you will have the finest and most knowledgeable representation.
Have you or someone you know been accused of receiving stolen property? You can count on our team at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., in Watchung, NJ. Call us for a free attorney consultation at (908) 561-5577.