Top New Jersey Criminal Defense Theft Lawyers

If you are facing charges for theft, including shoplifting, burglary, robbery, or receiving stolen property, you need to begin building your defense as early as possible. If the police are questioning you, you should refrain from answering any questions until you have contacted a criminal defense lawyer. Our experienced lawyers may be able to intervene early in the process to have the charges against you dismissed, possibly by negotiating an out of court payment of restitution to the victim.

“Theft” is a broad term that covers a variety of charges. In general, theft is considered the act of taking another person’s property without their consent. Regardless of the value of property stolen or the nature of the crime, a theft conviction carries harsh penalties in New Jersey.

In addition to possible jail time and fines, a theft conviction will result in a criminal record that can damage your reputation and prevent you from being able to earn a living. These days, your criminal record is accessible online by anyone—including potential employers, banks, schools, landlords, co-workers, family and friends. A conviction can result in loss of your professional license. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may even be deported.

Whatever your situation, the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Shebell & Shebell will listen to your side of the story and help you craft a solid defense. We pride ourselves on taking—and winning—the most difficult cases.


Common Theft Charges in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties

We have extensive experience defending against all types of theft charges, including:


Being arrested for shoplifting is not only embarrassing, but if you are convicted you will face serious penalties. If you are accused of stealing items valued in excess of $200 you can be charged with a felony.


Burglary is defined as entering or remaining on property that you have no lawful right to be on for the purpose of committing an offense. Thus, if you enter a store during business hours but remain inside after they close, you could be charged with burglary. In New Jersey, if you unlawfully enter a property to commit “any” offense, you can be charged with burglary, it is not restricted to stealing property. Thus, breaking into a warehouse to engage in underage drinking could potentially be charged as a burglary in New Jersey. Even if you don’t succeed in your attempt and walk away from the building empty handed, you can still be convicted of burglary. Burglary is a third degree crime, and carries a prison sentence of three to five years.

Robbery/Armed Robbery

Robbery is defined as inflicting or threatening harm on another in order to take their property. Police, prosecutors and judges are particularly hard on robbery defendants because it is a crime that implies violence, even though the mere threat of violence is enough to sustain a charge. Sentences range from five to 20 years in prison.


Carjacking, the taking of someone’s vehicle through violence or the threat of violence, is a type of robbery. It is a first-degree offense and carries up to 30 years in prison. If you are convicted, you must serve a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years in prison.

Theft by unlawful taking

This is the most common theft charge in New Jersey. It covers any crime where a person takes another person’s property without their permission. If you see someone’s wallet lying unattended on the bar and take it, you can be charged with theft by unlawful taking. This charge applies to the taking of anything of value, including pets, checks, information, and computer software. Theft of a firearm, pet or less than one kilogram of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) are third degree crimes punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Auto theft

“Auto theft” refers to a wide variety of auto-related offenses, including joyriding, unauthorized use of a vehicle, theft by unlawful taking of an automobile, maintaining a facility for sale of stolen automobiles or parts or running an auto theft ring.

Receiving stolen property

This is the acquisition of goods with the knowledge that they have been unlawfully obtained. Mistakenly believing that the property is not stolen may be a viable defense to this crime.

Theft of services

The most common example of this crime is the unauthorized acquisition of cable T.V. or Internet service.

Theft by extortion

Extortion is the act of threatening a person with the intent of taking their money or property. Extortion is a second-degree crime and carries a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $100,000. If convicted, you will be subject to the No Early Release Act, which means that you must serve 85% of your prison sentence with no possibility of parole.


Penalties for Theft Convictions in New Jersey

Penalties vary depending on the value of property stolen and whether force was used.

Second Degree Crime: If you stole property valued in excess of $75,000, you could face a sentence of between five and ten years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Third Degree Crime: If you stole property valued between $500.01 and $75,000, you could face between three and five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Fourth Degree Crime: If you stole property valued between $200.01 and $500, you could face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Disorderly Persons Offense: If you stole property valued at less than $200, you could face up to six months in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.


New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers at Shebell & Shebell Fight Theft Charges

When your freedom and reputation are on the line, don’t take any chances. Having an experienced lawyer in your corner can mean the difference between a conviction with life altering consequences, or a mere bump in the road of your life. Our team of criminal defense lawyers includes former municipal judges, prosecutors and public defenders. We have handled every type of theft case and know how to get results for our clients.

We serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and Ocean County, including Howell, Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Wall, Union Beach and Neptune. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.


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Thomas Shebell was an A M A Z I N G attorney for our personal injury case. He made himself available to all our questions and concerns during the whole process. We were very nervous about it all and he set our fears to rest. You instantly believe in him after your first meeting. He was serious yet empathetic, had superb legal knowledge, and great judgement. His staff is also top notch. Words cannot describe how wonderful a lawyer we believe Thomas Shebell to be and would highly recommend him.
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Tom Shebell has represented me and my family members in several cases. Tom is the most prepared lawyer I have ever seen, and demands respect in and outside of the court room. His staff is amazing and never makes you feel as if you are bothering them. I always feel that I am his most important client, and he always takes my call. If he is busy, I am reassured that he will get right back to me and he does. His knowledge of the law and research on your case is impecable, and will never give up until he gets the results that he feels are the best for you. Although he is the most professional attorney I have ever worked with, he refers you call him Tom (not Mr. Shebell), and I am most comfortable calling him Tommy. His cell phone is on his answering service, to comfort you and assuring you that you can reach him if necessary, no matter what. I will never retain another lawyer, unless it is a case that he cannot handle. That has never happened to me. Unfortunately, Tommy is handling a very emotional case for my family, and whenever we discuss it our meet together he is very comforting to us. For a family man, and extremely busy attorney to handle matters like this, it truly takes a special type of person, and extraordiinary human being. If anyone take my advise, Tom Shebell, III is the only attorney that should be called first, and believe me you will not make another call. As I said in my title, he is my true "hero"!
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Thomas Shebell and his staff were very good to work with. They were always professional, but also very down to earth and real. I always felt that my best interest was their main concern. I was always able to call with questions and concerns and was never made to wait or to feel like I was inconveniencing anyone. I always felt that they knew instantly who I was and what was going on with my case. In the end, Thomas was able to get the best possible settlement for me. I am very grateful to have been treated like my case truly mattered to them.
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Tom Shebell and his firm came highly recommended by several reputable people in the community. I come from a family deeply rooted in law enforcement, so I greatly appreciate that Tom grew up with the law as well, hailing from a family of highly respected attorneys. He easily grasped the complexity of my case and eased my concerns, while ferociously fighting for me. One of the moments that stands out to me the most was when I voiced a concern over possible retaliation and he said, "they're going to have come through me first." I wholeheartedly believed him then and now. There is no one else I'd want in my corner than Tom Shebell.
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A League Of His Own

Mere words cannot express my gratitude to Thomas F Shebell III. He took on a case, that other attorneys would shy away from and fought vehemently for my husband, myself and our daughter. His tenacity is only surpassed by his kindness and compassion for his clients well-being. I would recommend Mr. Shebell III to anyone who may need an attorney to guide them through a difficult time and see them through to a successful end. Many thanks again to him and his staff!!