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Motor Vehicle Theft

Motor Vehicle Theft in New Jersey

In New Jersey, theft of a motor vehicle is prohibited by the the most basic and common theft related crime N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. Theft by unlawful taking or disposition. Pursuant N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3, the theft of a motor vehicle is a third degree crime and punishable up to five years.

The Bianchi Law Group, LLC

The Bianchi Law Group is made up of former trial prosecutors and other “of counsel” attorneys who have handled the investigations and prosecutions of most crimes in New Jersey and will defend you for all federal and state crimes in New Jersey including Theft of a Motor Vehicle.

Former Motor Vehicle Theft Prosecutors

Founding Partner and Former Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi has returned to private practice after running the operations of the entire Morris County Prosecutor’s Office having served as the Morris County Prosecutor for 5 and 1/2 years (2007-2013). Mr. Bianchi was appointed as the Morris County Prosecutor by the Governor of the State of New Jersey and unanimously confirmed by the New Jersey Senate in 2007. While serving as the Morris County Prosecutor, Mr. Bianchi ran the entire office’s operations, inclusive of all of its attorneys, detectives, and support staff with a budget of approximately 11 million dollars. His innovative programs and approach have led to numerous awards from State, Local, Municipal, business, and private entities. Robert Bianchi served on the Executive Board of the County Prosecutors’ Association and was one of the few prosecutors in many years to actually argue cases, motions, and sentences in court, and actually tried a murder case himself, which is extremely rare for a sitting county prosecutor.

Mr. Bianchi was previously a Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor (1989-1996) and thereafter a partner in the law firm Bianchi & Bianchi (1996-2007). Robert was one of the few attorneys in the State who qualified to handle death penalty cases when New Jersey had the death penalty.

Partner David J. Bruno has also returned to private practice after serving as Morris County Assistant Prosecutor (2007-2013). As an assistant prosecutor, Mr. Bruno prosecuted murder, major crimes, white collar, internal affairs, domestic violence, and elderly abuse cases. Additionally, Mr. Bruno handled fraud and Major Crimes investigations and successfully tried a wide variety of trials including securing convictions for several high profile murder cases.

In December 2012, then Prosecutor Bianchi and Assistant Prosecutor Bruno worked together to secure a murder conviction against Jose Feliciano for the violent death of Father Edward Hinds in at St. Patrick’s Church in Chatham, New Jersey. Mr. Feliciano was sentenced to life without parole.

Together, Robert A. Bianchi, David J. Bruno and other “of counsel” attorneys make up an aggressive, ethical, and results-oriented New Jersey Criminal Defense firm who handle all criminal, municipal and DUI/DWI cases in New Jersey including Theft of a Motor Vehicle cases.

Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court

Partners Robert A. Bianchi and David J. Bruno are also both certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a criminal trial Attorneys.

New Jersey Certified AttorneyIn New Jersey, the New Jersey Supreme Court has a certification committee which classifies certain New Jersey Lawyers as Certified Trial Attorneys. The process requires the prospective attorneys to satisfy a strict criteria including extensive jury trials, a primary focus in criminal law, an application submission, a peer review process, a character and background check and to pass a written examination. Only 250 of over 93,000 lawyers (less than 1%) are designated as certified criminal trial attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court. This should be an important factor in finding a New Jersey criminal defense attorney to represent you. Many New Jersey Lawyers describe themselves as trial attorneys but most do not have the New Jersey Court’s distinction as Certified Criminal Trial Attorney.

Theft Crimes Penalties in New Jersey

The Penalties for Theft Crimes in New Jersey depend on the circumstances of the Theft. Under 2C:20-3. Theft by unlawful taking or disposition, the degree of the crime and the penalty depends on the value of the property or the type of property taken. N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2(c) provides the grading of theft offenses.

A theft in New Jersey is a crime of the third degree if the property stolen is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, horse, domestic companion animal or airplane;

Crimes in the third degree range can be punishable from 3 years to 5 years in the New Jersey State prison. The Sentencing Judge may also order fines and restitution as prescribed by 2C:43-3 and for all convictions for Theft of a Motor Vehicle in New Jersey.

Additional Penalties for Theft of a Motor Vehicle in New Jersey, Including Drivers License Suspensions- 2C:20-2.1

In addition to any other disposition authorized by law, a person convicted under the provisions of this chapter of theft or unlawful taking of a motor vehicle shall be subject:

(1) For the first offense, to a penalty of $500.00 and to the suspension or postponement of the person’s license to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of one year.

(2) For a second offense, to a penalty of $750.00 and to the suspension or postponement of the person’s license to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of two years.

(3) For a third or subsequent offense, to a penalty of $1,000.00, and to the suspension or postponement of the person’s license to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for 10 years.

2C:20-18-Leader of auto theft trafficking network

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.

2C:20-2(c)- Statutory Defenses to Theft in New Jersey

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for theft that the actor:

(1) Was unaware that the property or service was that of another;

(2) Acted under an honest claim of right to the property or service involved or that he had a right to acquire or dispose of it as he did; or

(3) Took property exposed for sale, intending to purchase and pay for it promptly, or reasonably believing that the owner, if present, would have consented.

2C:20-2(d)-Theft From a Spouse

It is no defense that theft or computer criminal activity was from or committed against the actor’s spouse, except that misappropriation of household and personal effects, or other property normally accessible to both spouses, is theft or computer criminal activity only if it occurs after the parties have ceased living together.

2C:20-1.1-Presumed Unlawful Purpose

In any prosecution for an offense enumerated in chapter 20 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes involving a defaced access device, any removal, erasure, defacement, alteration, destruction, covering or other change in such access device from its original configuration performed by any person other than an authorized manufacturer of, or service provider to access devices shall be presumed to be for an unlawful purpose.

Trial Ready New Jersey Criminal Lawyers

Like in all of our cases handled at the Bianchi Law Group, our experienced staff of trial attorneys and “of counsel” attorneys are there to make sure the Government can prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If our attorneys cannot resolve the case with a dismissal or a fair and just plea bargain, our lawyers at The Bianchi Law Group will not hesitate to select a jury and take the case to trial. That is what we do and what distinguishes us from other attorneys. We are former prosecutors, trial tested, and certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as certified criminal trial attorneys… We will not hesitate to go to trial.

Contact Us Today for a Free Initial Consultation

Contact Former Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi, Esq. and David J. Bruno, Esq. at The Bianchi Law Group, LLC online or call (862) 210-8570 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced New Jersey Defense Attorney.

At The Bianchi Law Group, we will take care to provide you Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases.

New Jersey Supreme Court - Certified Attorney
National Italian American Bar Association
National Italian American Bar Association 2
Avvo Rating - 10.0 Superb - Top Attorney Criminal Defense
New Jersey Association for Justice
New Jersey State Bar Association
Order Sons of Italy in America


4 York Avenue, 2nd Floor
West Caldwell, New Jersey, 07006
Phone: 862-210-8570

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