How a Property Crimes Lawyer Can Help

Your New Jersey property crimes attorney can help your case in several ways. Whether you are charged with a lower-level crime or a more severe property crime, the consequences of a conviction could have a devastating impact on your life.

Your freedoms may be on the line. A criminal defense attorney in New Jersey can help by:

They Have a Thorough Understanding of NJ Laws

Only an in-depth and keen understanding of New Jersey property crime laws can help you obtain a favorable outcome in your case. We know your rights and are not afraid to protect them at trial.

They’ll Challenge the Prosecution’s Claims

The state’s prosecutor is supposed to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction for a property crime. Your criminal defense attorney understands the types of evidence used to obtain conviction in cases of this nature. We will be prepared to challenge this evidence so it cannot be introduced at trial against you.

They Have Extensive Trial Experience

Working with a private property crimes attorney provides you with additional legal options that you may not receive when working with a public defender or if you defend yourself. Your lawyer will analyze the details of your case to determine how to best approach your defense strategy. They may negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution or build a strong defense at trial.

Trial-Ready Lawyers for All Property Crimes

Under New Jersey law, there are many types of property crimes.

Some common property crimes in Monmouth County include:

  • Burglary – Breaking and entering or remaining in any structure or building with the intent to commit a crime under N.J.S.A.2C:18-2.
  • Criminal mischief – Under N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3a(1), this involves any damage done to someone else’s tangible property.
  • Trespassing – Under N.J.S.A.2C:18-3, this involves individuals that enter or are located on someone else’s property without their permission or consent. Defiant trespassing involves being on someone else’s property with a posted or verbal notice against trespassing.
  • Arson – Under N.J.S.A.2C:17-1, this involves intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion
  • Motor Vehicle Theft – Although this is a property crime, you will be charged under New Jersey’s theft laws.

Penalties for NJ Property Crimes

Both first-time and habitual property crime offenders face harsh consequences if convicted. New Jersey law is unique in that criminal offenses are not referred to as misdemeanors or felony crimes.

Instead, criminal offenses are classified as disorderly persons offenses and first, second, third, or fourth-degree crimes.

The potential penalties for a conviction are as follows:

  • Petty Disorderly Persons Offense – 30 days in jail and fines of $500.
  • Disorderly Persons Offense – 6 months in jail and fine of $1,000.
  • Fourth-Degree Criminal Offense – 18 months in jail and fines up to $10,000.
  • Third-Degree Criminal Offense – 3 to 5-year prison sentence and fines up to $15,000.
  • Second-Degree Criminal Offense – 5 to 10-year sentence and fines up to $150,000.
  • First-Degree Criminal Offense – 10 to 20-year prison sentence and fines up to $200,000.

Examples of Specific Property Crime Penalties

Property crime penalties vary widely depending on the details of your case.

Here are some examples of the specific penalties you might face:

  • Burglary – Prison sentence of up to ten years; fines as high as $150,000.
  • Criminal mischief – Prison term of up to ten years; fines as high as $150,000.
  • Trespassing – 18 months in jail; fines as high as $10,000.
  • Arson – Anywhere from 18 months to 20 years in prison.
  • Motor Vehicle Theft – License suspension of 1-10 years; fines of $500-$1,000.

Aggravating Factors in Property Crimes

The reason why property crimes range in penalties is because specific details of your case impact your charges, including:

  • Having a prior criminal history
  • Someone suffering severe bodily injury or death
  • The use of a deadly weapon

These factors, along with other situations, may result in additional penalties.

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How New Jersey Law Defines Property Crimes

New Jersey law defines property crimes based on the alleged offender’s intent and the type of property. For example, your attorney can argue that you did not have the intent to commit property damage. Or, maybe you didn’t have the intent to commit a crime on the property.

Common Property vs. Personal Property

There is also the question of common property versus personal property. Property crimes against common property refer to property you used or had access to. Personal property is your own, and you generally will not be charged criminally for personal property damage.

Defense Options for Property Crimes

When you’re charged with a property crime, many facts of your case can be disputed to create reasonable doubt.

An experienced New Jersey property crimes lawyer can argue one or more of the following defenses, depending on your case.

Mistaken Identity

You may be mistaken for the person who actually committed the property crime. In that case, we will uncover evidence and witness testimony that proves where you were when the crime took place.

Failure to Follow Due Process

Police must follow certain procedural rules and due process. If you were not read your rights when you were arrested, or police attempted to question you after you asked for an attorney, you may be able to get the charges against you dropped entirely.

Lack of Intent

To obtain a conviction for a property crime, the state’s prosecutor will need to show that you have the intent to commit a property crime. If you lack the intent to commit a crime, you should not be convicted criminally.

Claim of Right to Property

Who owns the property can significantly impact your case. You may have a right to the property that was allegedly taken. In trespassing cases, you may be unaware that you were on the property illegally.

Property Crime FAQ

Here are some questions we receive about New Jersey property crime charges.

Can I Get a Property Crime Conviction Expunged?

Most property crimes might be eligible for expungement if no one was seriously injured or killed. However, each property crime is different. If you are interested in learning more about expungement, you will need to talk with your attorney about the details of your case and your legal options going forward.

Can I Avoid Jail by Paying for the Property Damage?

You could avoid jail time if you pay for the property damage in question. You must work with the state’s prosecutor and potentially the victims in your case to ensure that paying restitution is a good fit for your case.