Crimes in New Jersey are predominantly defined by the surrounding circumstances of an alleged act. Thus, it is no different for crimes involving theft. Crimes of “taking” in New Jersey are delineated as theft, robbery, shoplifting, embezzlement, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and more. Each offense has qualifying elements that define the respective crime. These offenses in New Jersey are often referred to as intent crimes. The physical act itself, the mental act (or intent), causation and the concurrence between the physical and mental act, are what the State uses to prove a crime. Here, intent means that a defendant engaged in an act to derive a certain result. Intent is considered an element of theft offenses, as well as other offenses violating the NJ Criminal Statutes. The Model Penal Code looks to four distinct ways to determine the mental state to meet this element of a crime. The State of New Jersey also follows similar means to prove the requisite intent to commit a crime. Overall, if the State cannot prove intent, then the crime cannot be proven.

One may ask, how can the State prove what someone else thinks or intends to do? This is considered one’s state of mind to commit a crime, or mens rea. Mens rea can be proven through the State showing a defendant acted purposefully through a conscious act. It can also be proven that the defendant acted knowingly, meaning that he or she was aware one’s conduct would lead to a certain result. It can similarly be proven that a defendant acted recklessly, meaning that he or she consciously disregarded a risk, or negligently, meaning that he or she ignored the risk that a crime would result from one’s actions. This means in order to be proven guilty of one of these offenses, he or she must meet this element of intent, in addition to the other elements involved in the crime. Intent can easily be understood when someone commits identity theft. For cases of identity theft, a defendant uses someone else’s identification with the intent to obtain a benefit of doing so whether it is a financial benefit or something else.

What are the most common theft, or taking, offenses in New Jersey? Theft by unlawful taking, shoplifting, and robbery are generally the most common taking offenses.

What is the difference between theft and robbery?

  • Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3, theft is the unlawful taking, or exercise of control over movable property of another with the purpose to deprive its owner of the property. Theft can also be defined as unlawfully transferring immovable property with purpose to benefit oneself or another.
  • Robbery, according to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, is when someone commits theft but in the process of doing so either: inflicts bodily injury, threatens another with immediate bodily injury or threatens to commit a crime of the first or second degree. One may be found guilty of robbery “in the course of” committing theft, which means that it arises in the attempt or in immediate flight after the attempt or commission of the theft.

The premise of robbery and theft is, in fact, fundamentally the same, as both require there being intent to deprive an actual owner of his or her property. The true difference between the two, however, is the threat of force involved. Essentially, robbery adds an additional component or layer to theft. Overall, they are each classified as intent crimes that deprive the owner of his or her property.

Theft offenses are classified as second, third or fourth degree felonies when the amount of the property involved exceeds specific values. In addition, the amount of property valued at $200 or less would be classified as a disorderly persons offense. On the other hand, robbery is a first or second degree crime. Thus, a defendant faces serious prison time and hefty fines with that serious of a crime at hand.

What is the difference between shoplifting and robbery?

The difference between robbery and shoplifting is that shoplifting occurs in a retail establishment, whereas robbery can occur anywhere. Shoplifting is also broad in what conduct is defined as such and is usually the taking or concealment of an item in a store or similar retail establishment. Oppositely, robbery poses a physical threat to another denoting the severity of the crime by being a second or first degree offense. An indictable conviction for a shoplifting charge can range from either a second to a fourth degree crime. In addition, shoplifting offenses can also be classified as disorderly persons offenses. When it comes to shoplifting crimes, using force to resist being taken into custody or detainment can lead to robbery charges through the creation of physical bodily harm. Ultimately, the line can quickly and easily become blurred whether a defendant’s action is a shoplifting or robbery offense under the law.

Get Help with Your Theft Charge in Morristown and Morris County NJ

Theft offenses come with strong penalties that can alter your life significantly. Contact an attorney for help today to start building a strong defense strategy for your theft charges in Morristown and throughout Morris County, NJ. Remember robbery, shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, credit card theft and fraud, and similar charges can lead to serious fines, penalties and prison time so it is important to speak with a lawyer regarding your individual case. You can reach out anytime for a free legal consultation.