Defending NJ 2C:20-6. Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake.
After you read the following NJ Criminal Statute (Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake) you may decide that you need the help of a lawyer, or need a legal interpretation of how this statute applies to your case. The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 20 years of experience, including a former municipal prosecutor. Call the number above for a free 24×7 phone consultation.
Summary of Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid or Delivered by Mistake
According to New Jersey law, a charge of theft of property lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake can be brought against a person who comes into control of property of another that he or she knows to have been lost, mislaid or delivered by a mistake and he or she converts the property to his or her own use, knowing the identity of the owner and with purpose to deprive said owner thereof.
The State’s Burden of Proof for Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered by Mistake
In order to succeed in obtaining a conviction, the prosecution must prove all four of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. If reasonable doubt remains regarding any of the elements, the defendant must be found not guilty. The elements for a guilty verdict for this theft charge are: that defendant did in fact come into control of property of another; that defendant knew that the property was lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake; that defendant knew the identity of the owner; and that defendant converted the property to his or her own use with the purpose to deprive the owner of the property.
Possible Defenses of a Charge of Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered by Mistake
If an experienced defense attorney can cast sufficient doubt on any one of the required elements, the defendant must be found innocent of the charge. The prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant not only knew about the loss or mistake, but also knew the true identity of the owner. Then the prosecutor must prove that the defendant took control of the property, and converted it to his or her own use with the purpose to deprive the owner.
Merely handling a lost article for purposes of examination or learning details about the lost property does not constitute control. Rather, the State must prove that the defendant exercised some control over the property, such as by taking it or using it. Reasonable defense strategies might be that that the defendant did not know the true identity of the owner, that the defendant believed the property to be abandoned, or that the defendant held the property with the intention of returning it to the true owner.
Penalties for a Theft of Property Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered by Mistake Conviction in NJ
The monetary value of the property unlawfully taken or controlled determines the degree of this criminal charge in New Jersey. A property value of $75,000 or more is a second degree crime, whereas a value between $500 and $75,000 is a third degree crime. If the value is between $200 and $500, a conviction for a fourth degree crime will be entered. All of the above convictions carry possible jail time and will appear on a background check. In no case should a defendant plead guilty and it is strongly advised to seek vigorous defense counsel. If you have been charged with theft in New Jersey, the criminal lawyers of Villani & DeLuca can discuss your charges with you and help determine a plan of action in defending your case. Call (732) 965-3350 today for a free, no obligation consultation.
NJ Statute: 2C:20-6. Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake.
A person who comes into control of property of another that he knows to have been lost, mislaid, or delivered under a mistake as to the nature or amount of the property or the identity of the recipient is guilty of theft if, knowing the identity of the owner and with purpose to deprive said owner thereof, he converts the property to his own use.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:20-6, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.
AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:20-6, Violation 2C:20-6, Offense 2C:20-6
Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website lis.njleg.state.nj.us as of August 2012.