Articles Posted in Theft Charges

If a criminal defendant is charged with multiple offenses stemming from different incidents, the State will often try the defendant separately for each event. In some instances, though, the State may join multiple indictments for trial. While this is generally permissible, it may be barred in certain circumstances. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed when multiple indictments can be combined at trial, in a case in which the defendant was charged with two separate acts of shoplifting. If you are accused of committing one or more crimes, it is critical to retain an aggressive New Jersey criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant took merchandise from a video game store in January of 2014. Then, in September 2015, he reportedly stole merchandise from a second video game store. The police used surveillance footage from the second incident to investigate both crimes, after which the defendant was indicted for two separate counts of third-degree shoplifting, one for each incident.

The State moved to join the indictments for trial, arguing in part that evidence relating to each crime would be admissible in both trials if the cases were tried separately. The court granted the motion, and the defendant was convicted of third-degree and fourth-degree shoplifting. He appealed, arguing in part that the joinder of the indictments for trial was improper as the evidence of either event would not have been admissible if there were separate hearings.

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Money laundering is punishable as a crime in New Jersey, but the terms of the money laundering statute are less than clear. Specifically, there is a debate as to the meaning of the phrase “amount involved,” which is used to determine the severity of the offense. Thus, a New Jersey court recently clarified the meaning of the term in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for money laundering. If you are charged with money laundering or another fraud crime, it is advisable to speak to a trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorney regarding what defenses you may be able to assert.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant took merchandise from his employer’s warehouse without permission. The merchandise had been purchased by the employer for $878,000 but had a value of approximately $4,000,000. The defendant then sold a portion of the merchandise for $63,000 to a woman in New Hampshire. The defendant was then charged with numerous crimes, including first-degree money laundering, which pursuant to the money laundering statute is an offense where the amount involved is greater than $500,000.

Allegedly, the defendant moved to have the charges amended to third-degree money laundering, which was an offense where the amount involved was less than $75,000, due to the fact that he only received $63,000 for the stolen goods. The judge then determined that the amount involved was $283,500, which constituted a second-degree offense. The State appealed.

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It is not uncommon for a defendant to defend against his or her charges by offering the testimony of a witness who supports the defendant’s alibi. Recently, a New Jersey court assessed to what extent the State is permitted to weaken a defendant’s defense by questioning an alibi witness regarding his or her earlier silence, in a case in which the defendant was charged with robbery and other crimes. If you are accused of a theft crime, it is important to consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to discuss what evidence the State is permitted to use against you at trial.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant and another man entered a shoe store at night. One of the men pulled out a gun, and both men directed the women working in the store to lie on the floor in the back room, after which they tied the hands and feet of the women. The women gave the men the combination to the safe, and the men accessed the safe and removed money and then left. A glove was found at the store that was later determined to have the defendant’s DNA. Additionally, one of the women working at the time of the incident identified that defendant when presented with an array of photos.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with robbery, kidnapping, and other crimes, but only the robbery and kidnapping charges proceeded to trial. At trial, the defendant presented two alibi witnesses. A hearing was held during the trial on the issue of whether the State could cross-examine the second alibi witness regarding her prior silence, after which the court found in favor of the State. The defendant was ultimately convicted. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing the State to cross-examine the alibi witness.

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A Hazlet man was arrested and charged with theft for stealing a wallet out of a woman’s shopping cart at K-Mart. The suspect has been charged with Theft by Unlawful Taking.  Bail has been set at $25,000 and the case will undoubtedly be referred to the Monmouth County Superior Court in view of the bail amount (i.e. appears to be Third Degree bail).

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3 of New Jersey Criminal Law, an individual may be indicted for Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition and this can be a Second Degree, Third Degree or Fourth Degree crime. An indictment is properly grounded under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3 when an individual unlawfully takes or exercises unlawful control over the property of another. The term “unlawful” refers to the accused’s knowledge that he was not entitled to take, exercise control over or dispose of the property. The accused must also intend to deprive the true owner of the property.

Here there is no question that the defendant comitted a theft by unlawful taking provided the story is accurate. He snatched the wallet and took off with it thereby manifesting an intent to deprive the owner of the property. The only real issue in this case appears to be where the charge will fall in terms of Degree of Crime. The grading of a theft by unlawful taking is predicated on the value of property or money involved: (a) it is a Second Degree Offense if the theft involved a value of $75,000 or more; (b) it is a Third Degree Offense if the value involved is between $500 and $75,000; and (c) it is a Fourth Degree Offense if the value involved is between $200 and $500. The extent of this suspect’s problem will hinge on how much money the woman was carrying in her wallet.  I certainly hope the victim did not have a winning lottery ticket in her wallet.

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