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Larceny, Theft and Stealing

Posted by attorney Kenneth Vercammen

Contact the Law Office of KENNETH A VERCAMMEN for Legal Representation Kenneth Vercammen's Law office represents individuals charged with theft throughout New Jersey.

Larceny is the word with used to describe stealing in many states. In New Jersey, the statutes uses the word "theft", rather than larceny. New Jersey does not use the word larceny.

If someone is criminally indicted for theft, at trial the judge will read to the jurors the following jury instructions of the law:

The following charge is to be used when the factual circumstances indicate an unlawful taking of personal property, and the value of the property is in dispute. In other instances, reference must be made to 2C:20-2b to determine the degree of theft. See Charge #2.291 on GRADATION OF THEFT OFFENSES. (Note that 2C:20-2b(2) makes some offenses of the third degree regardless of the value of the property).

The statute, on which the indictment is based is, 2C:20-3a, which reads in its pertinent part as follows:

A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises control over movable property of another with purpose to deprive him thereof.

The jury cannot find the defendant guilty unless the jury determines that the State has proven the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: First, the State must prove that the defendant unlawfully took (here describe property listed in indictment). In order to prove an unlawful taking, the State need not prove that the property was carried out of the place in which it was kept, but only that it was moved or taken from its original location. If the defendant is found with the stolen property shortly after it was taken, charge the jury that it may draw an inference that the defendant took the property. Second, the State must prove that at the time the defendant took this property (his/her) purpose was to deprive the owner of the (here describe property) With regard to the requirement of proof of a purpose to deprive another of (his/her) property, you are instructed that a person acts purposely with respect to the nature of (his/her) conduct or a result thereof if it is (his/her) conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result. In other words, in order for the jury to find that the defendant acted purposely, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time the defendant took the property it was (his/her) conscious object to deprive (the owner) of (describe property). (If appropriate, insert relevant portions of the following definition.) "Deprive" means (1) to withhold (or cause to be withheld) property of another permanently or for so extended a period as to appropriate a substantial portion of its economic value...or, (2) to dispose (or cause disposal) of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it). Thus, if the jury finds, after careful consideration of all of the evidence that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements as I have explained them, then your verdict should be guilty. However, if the State has not proven each of the elements described above to the jury's satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt, then the jury's verdict should be not guilty.

The following are the theft statutes in New Jersey:

2C:20-1. Definitions. In chapters 20 and 21, unless a different meaning plainly is required:

a. "Deprive" means: (1) to withhold or cause to be withheld property of another permanently or for so extended a period as to appropriate a substantial portion of its economic value, or with purpose to restore only upon payment of reward or other compensation; or (2) to dispose or cause disposal of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it.

b. "Fiduciary" means an executor, general administrator of an intestate, administrator with the will annexed, substituted administrator, guardian, substituted guardian, trustee under any trust, express, implied, resulting or constructive, substituted trustee, executor, conservator, curator, receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, assignee for the benefit of creditors, partner, agent or officer of a corporation, public or private, temporary administrator, administrator, administrator pendente lite, administrator ad prosequendum, administrator ad litem or other person acting in a similar capacity.

c. "Financial institution" means a bank, insurance company, credit union, savings and loan association, investment trust or other organization held out to the public as a place of deposit of funds or medium of savings or collective investment.

d. "Government" means the United States, any state, county, municipality, or other political unit, or any department, agency or subdivision of any of the foregoing, or any corporation or other association carrying out the functions of government.

e. "Movable property" means property the location of which can be changed, including things growing on, affixed to, or found in land, and documents, although the rights represented thereby have no physical location. "Immovable property" is all other property.

f. "Obtain" means: (1) in relation to property, to bring about a transfer or purported transfer of a legal interest in the property, whether to the obtainer or another; or (2) in relation to labor or service, to secure performance thereof.

g. "Property" means anything of value, including real estate, tangible and intangible personal property, trade secrets, contract rights, choses in action and other interests in or claims to wealth, admission or transportation tickets, captured or domestic animals, food and drink, electric, gas, steam or other power, financial instruments, information, data, and computer software, in either human readable or computer readable form, copies or originals.

h. "Property of another" includes property in which any person other than the actor has an interest which the actor is not privileged to infringe, regardless of the fact that the actor also has an interest in the property and regardless of the fact that the other person might be precluded from civil recovery because the property was used in an unlawful transaction or was subject to forfeiture as contraband. Property in possession of the actor shall not be deemed property of another who has only a security interest therein, even if legal title is in the creditor pursuant to a conditional sales contract or other security agreement.

i. "Trade secret" means the whole or any portion or phase of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula or improvement which is secret and of value. A trade secret shall be presumed to be secret when the owner thereof takes measures to prevent it from becoming available to persons other than those selected by the owner to have access thereto for limited purposes.

j. "Dealer in property" means a person who buys and sells property as a business.

k. "Traffic" means:

(1)To sell, transfer, distribute, dispense or otherwise dispose of property to another person; or

(2)To buy, receive, possess, or obtain control of or use property, with intent to sell, transfer, distribute, dispense or otherwise dispose of such property to another person.

l. "Broken succession of title" means lack of regular documents of purchase and transfer by any seller except the manufacturer of the subject property, or possession of documents of purchase and transfer by any buyer without corresponding documents of sale and transfer in possession of seller, or possession of documents of sale and transfer by seller without corresponding documents of purchase and transfer in possession of any buyer.

m. "Person" includes any individual or entity or enterprise, as defined herein, holding or capable of holding a legal or beneficial interest in property.

n. "Anything of value" means any direct or indirect gain or advantage to any person.

o. "Interest in property which has been stolen" means title or right of possession to such property.

p. "Stolen property" means property that has been the subject of any unlawful taking.

q. "Enterprise" includes any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, business trust, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact, although not a legal entity, and it includes illicit as well as licit enterprises and governmental as well as other entities.

r. "Attorney General" includes the Attorney General of New Jersey, his assistants and deputies. The term shall also include a county prosecutor or his designated assistant prosecutor, if a county prosecutor is expressly authorized in writing by the Attorney General to carry out the powers conferred on the Attorney General by this chapter.

s. "Access device" means property consisting of any telephone calling card number, credit card number, account number, mobile identification number, electronic serial number, personal identification number, or any other data intended to control or limit access to telecommunications or other computer networks in either human readable or computer readable form, either copy or original, that can be used to obtain telephone service.

t. "Defaced access device" means any access device, in either human readable or computer readable form, either copy or original, which has been removed, erased, defaced, altered, destroyed, covered or otherwise changed in any manner from its original configuration.

u. "Domestic companion animal" means any animal commonly referred to as a pet or one that has been bought, bred, raised or otherwise acquired, in accordance with local ordinances and State and federal law for the primary purpose of providing companionship to the owner, rather than for business or agricultural purposes.

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