Our analysis begins with the first question, has Zack committed a theft?

Return to the definition: “Theft” in New Jersey means to unlawfully take or exercise control over property belonging to someone else with purpose to deprive the other person of that property. Now let's parse that definition.

Was the steak salad “property”? Of course. Did it belong to someone else? Until Zack paid for it, the answer is yes. After Zack paid for it and the cashier accepted his payment, the answer is no; then it belonged to Zack.

But “taking” is only one way to commit theft in New Jersey. Other ways exist. One of those other ways is theft by deception. Theft by deception occurs when a person obtains property from another by some kind of falsehood, or trickery. Was there falsehood or trickery? If yes, then Zack committed theft by deception.

On the facts presented, Theft Lawyers in New Jersey believe there was indeed falsehood. The falsehood occurred when Zack failed to correct the cashier when Zack realized her error. Zack had an affirmative obligation to correct the cashier's error.

The traditional falsehood arises from an affirmative misstatement of fact. But falsehoods can equally arise from failure to correct another's factual error that goes to the heart of the transaction. See, in this regard, the following language in State of New Jersey v. Damiano, 322 N.J. Super. 22 (App. Div., 1999), certif. den. 163 N.J. 396 (2000):

We have addressed this history not because we conclude that the sale of property encumbered by a security interest to a buyer expecting clear title may never constitute conduct criminalized by N.J.S. 2C:20-4. Clearly it may, particularly if the seller's intent was to deceive the buyer[].

Based upon the above, Theft Lawyers in New Jersey believe, on the facts presented, that Zack committed a theft. The specific type of theft is theft by deception.

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