New Jersey’s governor has signed into law a bill that classifies truck theft as a criminal offense that includes jail time among its possible penalties. Formerly, theft charges for stealing a truck were classified as a property crime, and most offenders were not jailed as a result of their activities.
The bill was sponsored as a response to a growing number of cargo thefts in the state. Approximately $1 billion of cargo is stolen in New Jersey annually. The theft of trucks containing valuable cargo has other side effects, such as causing the prices of goods to go up. The law specifies penalties of as much as $500,000 in fines and five to 10 years in prison.
The law also covers criminal charges against those who own operating facilities that are used for storage or sale of cargo that is shown to be stolen. Industry experts believe the new law will help to curb cargo theft and stress that safe parking areas for truck drivers are also needed to cut down on the number of stolen trucks.
A person who is accused of cargo theft may now face very serious criminal penalties. Even more disturbing, however, are the implications of punishment against those who store or sell stolen cargo. It is feasible that a warehouse owner could store cargo in good faith and wind up facing criminal charges simply because he or she did not know that the cargo was stolen. A criminal defense attorney may assist someone who is accused of cargo theft or other criminal activity and may be able to formulate a defense to the charges depending on the circumstances. An experienced attorney may alternatively be able to arrange a plea agreement to reduce jail time or fines.