N.J.S.A. 2C:20-10

Automobile & Motor Vehicle Theft

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-10. Unlawful taking of means of conveyance.

a. A person commits a disorderly persons offense if, with purpose to withhold temporarily from the owner, he takes, operates, or exercises control over any means of conveyance, other than a motor vehicle, without consent of the owner or other person authorized to give consent. “Means of conveyance” includes but is not limited to motor vehicles, bicycles, motorized bicycles, boats, horses, vessels, surfboards, rafts, skimobiles, airplanes, trains, trams and trailers. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under subsections a., b. and c. of this section that the actor reasonably believed that the owner or any other person authorized to give consent would have consented to the operation had he known of it.

b. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, with purpose to withhold temporarily from the owner, he takes, operates or exercises control over a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or other person authorized to give consent.

c. A person commits a crime of the third degree if, with purpose to withhold temporarily from the owner, he takes, operates or exercises control over a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or other person authorized to give consent and operates the motor vehicle in a manner that creates a risk of injury to any person or a risk of damage to property.

d. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he enters and rides in a motor vehicle knowing that the motor vehicle has been taken or is being operated without the consent of the owner or other person authorized to consent.

Additional Fines for Auto Theft in New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2.2:

Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S. 2C:43-3, if the fair market value of the automobile and its contents at the time it was stolen exceeds $7,500.00 and the automobile is not recovered, the court may sentence the defendant to pay a fine for that higher amount.

Maintaining a Facility for Sale of Stolen Automobile or their Parts

The penalties for this offense are set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:20-18 as follows:

a. A person who knowingly maintains or operates any premises, place or facility used for the remodeling, repainting, or separating of automobile parts for resale of any stolen automobile is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

b. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, any person convicted of a violation of this section shall forthwith forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle in this State for a period to be fixed by the court at not less than three nor more than five years. The court shall cause a report of the conviction to be filed with the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Please take note that a violation under this statute will result in an indictment for a second degree crime and a loss of license for a period of not less than three years and not more than five years. Also, like many other theft offenses, there is a requirement that the defendant acted knowingly.

Employment of Juvenile to Commit Automobile Theft in New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-17 is the statute that criminalizes employment of a juvenile to commit automobile theft and is set forth as follows:

a. A person who is at least 18 years of age who knowingly uses, solicits, directs, hires or employs a person who is in fact 17 years of age or younger to commit theft of an automobile is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S. 2C:1-8, a conviction under this section shall not merge with a conviction for theft of an automobile. Nothing contained in this act shall prohibit the court from imposing an extended term pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:43-7; nor shall this act be construed in any way to preclude or limit the prosecution or conviction of any person for conspiracy under N.J.S. 2C:5-2, or any prosecution or conviction for any other offense.

b. It shall be no defense to a prosecution under this section that the actor mistakenly believed that the person which the actor used, solicited, directed, hired or employed was older than 17 years of age, even if such mistaken belief was reasonable.

The mere solicitation of a juvenile to commit a theft may be enough to sustain a conviction for attempted theft. This remains true whether or not the juvenile accepts the offer, or if the solicitor was reasonably unaware of the juveniles age, and believed him to be of age. Moreover, a conviction for violation of this statute will not merge, meaning the defendant may be found guilty of this offense and the underlying theft offense.

Leader of Auto Theft Trafficking Network

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-18 penalizes the actions of an individual acting as the leader of an auto theft ring, and is set forth as follows:

A person is a leader of an auto theft trafficking network if he conspires with others as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager, to engage for profit in a scheme or course of conduct to unlawfully take, dispose of, distribute, bring into or transport in this State automobiles as stolen property. Leader of auto theft trafficking network is a crime of the second degree. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of N.J.S. 2C:43-3, the court may impose a fine not to exceed $250,000.00 or five times the retail value of the automobiles seized at the time of the arrest, whichever is greater.

Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S. 2C:1-8, a conviction of leader of auto theft trafficking network shall not merge with the conviction for any offense which is the object of the conspiracy. Nothing contained in this act shall prohibit the court from imposing an extended term pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:43-7; nor shall this act be construed in any way to preclude or limit the prosecution or conviction of any person for conspiracy under N.J.S. 2C:5-2, or any prosecution or conviction for any other offense.

It shall not be necessary in any prosecution under this act for the State to prove that any intended profit was actually realized. The trier of fact may infer that a particular scheme or course of conduct was undertaken for profit from all of the attending circumstances, including but not limited to the number of persons involved in the scheme or course of conduct, the actor’s net worth and his expenditures in relation to his legitimate sources of income, the number of automobiles involved, or the amount of cash or currency involved.

It shall not be a defense to a prosecution under this act that the automobile was brought into or transported in this State solely for ultimate distribution in another jurisdiction; nor shall it be a defense that any profit was intended to be made in another jurisdiction.

A defendant who is found guilty of a violation of this section could face fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to ten years. It is important to note that in addition to proving the core elements of a crime, the State must also prove the existence of a conspiracy. The State must prove that the defendant acted purposely to promote or facilitate the commission of the unlawful taking, disposing of, distributing, bringing into or transporting in New Jersey automobiles as stolen property. Additionally, the State must prove an agreement between the defendant and at least one other person that they or one of them would commit, attempt, or solicit the commission of the specified crime.

New Jersey Carjacking Offense: First Degree Crime with Mandatory Minimum Sentence.

Carjacking is a robbery offense, as opposed to a theft offense. Carjacking involves not only the taking or attempted unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, but also an element of violence or threat of harm to another.

NJ carjacking penalties are set forth at N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2 as follows:

a. Carjacking defined. A person is guilty of carjacking if in the course of committing an unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, as defined in R.S.39:1-1, or in an attempt to commit an unlawful taking of a motor vehicle he:

(1) inflicts bodily injury or uses force upon an occupant or person in possession or control of a motor vehicle;

(2) threatens an occupant or person in control with, or purposely or knowingly puts an occupant or person in control of the motor vehicle in fear of, immediate bodily injury;

(3) commits or threatens immediately to commit any crime of the first or second degree; or

(4) operates or causes said vehicle to be operated with the person who was in possession or control or was an occupant of the motor vehicle at the time of the taking remaining in the vehicle.

An act shall be deemed to be “in the course of committing an unlawful taking of a motor vehicle” if it occurs during an attempt to commit the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle or during an immediate flight after the attempt or commission.

b. Grading. Carjacking is a crime of the first degree and upon conviction thereof a person may, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:43-6, be sentenced to an ordinary term of imprisonment between 10 and 30 years. A person convicted of carjacking shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment and that term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term of at least five years during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole.

The Penalties for Carjacking undoubtedly dictate the need for a skilled criminal defense lawyer. An arrest for carjacking is an extremely serious offense and a conviction thereof may mean a term of imprisonment of up to thirty years. If you have been arrested for carjacking, contact our law firm to discuss your case. Getting an attorney involved in your case early on is extremely important when facing first degree indictable charges. Negotiations with the prosecutor take place before an indictment is handed down. This presents an opportunity for your criminal lawyer to present available defenses that may be considered when deciding whether or not to indict, and what degree of offense the prosecutor shall pursue when presenting the case for indictment. A more detailed discussion of this subject can be found in our Violent Crimes practice center under the heading Carjacking Charges.

If you have been charged with theft,  you can only make a well-informed decision about how to proceed after discussing your case with an attorney with the appropriate experience. If you would like to speak with me, call 1-732-845-3203 or e-mail Ray at rraya@rayalaw.com to set up a consultation.

I represent clients who have received a summons or been arrested on a wide variety of traffic and criminal offenses, defending them throughout New Jersey.

The Law Offices of Raymond A. Raya, Esq.

Monmouth County Lawyer

Traffic · DUI/DWI · Criminal Defense · Municipal