Auto Theft: N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3

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Maplewood NJ Auto Theft Attorneys

With offices in Newark, New Jersey

Essex County Auto Theft Lawyer
Auto Theft

If you take a car without the owner’s consent, you may be charged with Auto Theft. This is one of the most serious of all theft offenses in New Jersey because there is almost always an element of danger involved in the unlawful taking of an automobile. As a result, the penalties for Auto Theft are enhanced from the standard penalties for Theft of Movable Property. If you are convicted of Auto Theft, you could spend a very long time behind bars.

The Tormey Law Firm has a hard-earned reputation for getting the job done in the courtroom. We have successfully handled theft crime cases in courts throughout Essex County, including Newark, Montclair, and Irvington. We are tenacious litigators who will do whatever it takes to challenge the evidence in your Auto Theft case and beat your charges.

Call the Tormey Law Firm

If you have been charged with Auto Theft in New Jersey, do not hesitate to contact us at 201-654-3464. A member of our litigation team will be happy to speak with you about your charges and help you figure out your next step.

NJ Auto Theft Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3

Auto Theft is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. If you unlawfully take an automobile with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle, you can be charged with auto theft.

The elements of the offense include:

  • Unlawful: If you obtained consent or permission from the owner of the vehicle before taking it, then the taking was not unlawful.
  • Intentional or Knowing: The prosecution must prove that the offender intended to steal the vehicle. If you did not know that the car was stolen when you got behind the wheel, you may have a valid defense to a charge of Auto Theft. These kinds of mistakes happen more often than you might think.
  • Permanent Taking: If you merely took the vehicle on a joyride, you may be able to argue for a downgraded charge because the taking was temporary.

Penalties for Auto Theft in Essex County, NJ

The penalties for Auto Theft are determined by the value of the vehicle. However, the minimum charge for Auto Theft is a third degree felony. Even if the value of the car is next-to-nothing, you can still face severe penalties that include a sentence of 3–5 years in New Jersey State Prison.

In addition to standard penalties for Theft of Movable Property, additional penalties apply when the theft involves an automobile:

  • First Offense: License suspension for 1 year and a $500 fine
  • Second Offense: License suspension for 2 years and a $750 fine
  • Third Offense: License suspension for 10 years and a $1,000 fine

Related Charge: Joyriding in Essex County

A charge that is often related to Auto Theft is Joyriding. This occurs when a person takes a vehicle belonging to another person, but plans to return the vehicle to the owner at a later time.
Joyriding is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-10. The penalties for Joyriding vary, depending upon the circumstances of the offense:

  • Disorderly Persons Offense: Unlawful taking of a bicycle, boat, or other means conveyance with intent to temporarily withhold it from the owner. A conviction may result in a sentence of up to 6 months in county jail.
  • Fourth Degree Felony: Unlawful taking of a motor vehicle with intent to temporarily withhold it from the owner. A conviction may result in a sentence of up to 18 months in NJ State Prison.
  • Third Degree Felony: Unlawful taking of a motor vehicle with intent to temporarily withhold it from the owner and create a risk of injury to another person or a risk of damage to property. A conviction may result in a sentence of 3–5 years in NJ State Prison.

It is also a fourth degree felony if a person rides as a passenger in a motor vehicle knowing that it has been unlawfully taken without consent of the owner.

Related Charge: Carjacking in Essex County

When the unlawful taking of an automobile involves the threat of violence, you can be charged with Carjacking. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2, Carjacking is one of the most serious criminal offenses in the NJ Criminal Code. The offense is classified as a first degree felony and carries a penalty of 10–30 years in New Jersey State Prison.

Contact a Caldwell NJ Auto Theft Lawyer

The lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm want to hear your side of the story. Call us now at 201-654-3464 to discuss your Auto Theft charges, or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation at our Newark office.

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Our NJ lawyers represent clients in Belleville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, City of Orange, East Orange, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, Montclair, Upper Montclair, Newark, North Caldwell, Nutley, Roseland, South Orange Village, Verona, West Caldwell, West Orange, Wayne, Clifton and Paterson. Call us at 201-654-3464 or toll-free at 888-668-1940.


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