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New Jersey Auto Theft Laws

While any kind of theft can lead to loads of trouble, when it comes to stealing a motor vehicle, the consequences can be even more substantial. Since the state of New Jersey doesn’t have separate statutes for stealing a car, any defendant involved in such a crime will face punishments related to theft. However, there can be specific penalties imposed upon a person related to the unlawful taking of a car, which would lead to additional charges on top of any traditional theft prosecution. Before you even think about giving in to the temptation of stealing a car, it is important to understand the detrimental consequences that you’ll face. 

Auto Theft Laws

To reiterate what was stated above, being charged with the theft of an auto vehicle will lead to not only your traditional theft charges, but also charges specifically related to stealing a car. These more concentrated penalties include theft of a motor vehicle, the use of a juvenile in auto theft, and leading an auto theft trafficking network. Not only will you be facing normal theft charges, but the consequences can compound if found guilty of these additional charges. 

The Penalties

Being charged with these additional auto theft crimes will lead to even harsher penalties. For theft of a motor vehicle, it depends on how many offenses you may have had in the past. For a first offense, a defendant can be fined $500 and lose their license for a year. For a second offense, the fine increases to $750, and you’ll lose your license for two years. A third offense will lead to a $1,000 fine and losing your license for up to 10 years. If a person solicits, hires or employs someone 17 years old or under to commit auto theft, the person is guilty of the use of a juvenile in auto theft, which is a crime in the second degree. Lastly, leading an auto theft trafficking network, or conspiring with others as a supervisor or organizer in a scheme to profit off of the selling, disposal or transportation of stolen motor vehicles is a crime in the second degree as well. However, in this case, the court can impose fines of up to $250,000, or 5x the retail value of the cars involved, whichever amount is greater. 


There are a few defenses that can be used if being charged with an auto theft crime. These include mistake of fact, or unknowingly stealing the property of someone else, having consent from the owner, or lack of intent. This refers to not intentionally depriving the owner of their property permanently. While these are possible defenses, they generally will not get you out of trouble completely. Plus, traditionally theft laws will also be considered in any auto theft case, which means those penalties will apply as well. 

Make Sure You Have Proper Representation

Being charged with an auto theft crime can lead to some serious repercussions, and if not handled properly, will be detrimental to the defendant. Make sure you have an experienced attorney who knows how to handle the case and defend you in the best way possible. We at Catanzaro Law have the right professionals equipped with the proper knowledge to defend an auto theft case. If you have been charged with such a crime, don’t hesitate to contact us today, and make sure you’re properly represented!


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