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Theft by Deception Attorneys in Passaic County NJ

Paterson NJ Theft by Deception Lawyers

If you have landed on the page, chances are you a researching the offense of theft by deception and may also be looking for an attorney. This charge, which is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, is designed to protect against people being cheated as result of false promises or representations. The deception is what distinguishes this offense from the related criminal violation of theft by unlawful taking.  In any case, what is contained on this page is a summary of the law in New Jersey concerning second degree, third degree, fourth degree and disorderly persons charges for theft by deception. What you should keep in mind is that any 2C:20-4 conviction results in a 2C record that will show up on a criminal background check and no one wants a potential employer or other third party to be confronted with this information. So give yourself the opportunity to speak to an experienced attorney without obligation at 862-203-4070.  We have been representing clients charged with various criminal offenses like receiving stolen property, shoplifting, theft of moveable property, credit card fraud in Passaic County for over a decade.

How Serious Is A Theft By Deception Charge?

Depending on the value of the property involved, theft by deception can be a misdemeanor or felony. It is a misdemeanor, referred to as a disorderly persons offense, if the value involved is less than $200. This grade of offense would be a municipal court charge. If the value is at least $200 but less than $500, the charge is a fourth degree crime.  For losses of at least $500 but less than $75,000, the offense is a third degree crime. For amounts of $75,000 or more, it is a second degree crime. As stated, a conviction for any grade of theft by deception results in a record and, in most cases, we are talking about a felony.

What Needs To Be Proven To Convict Someone of Theft by Deception?

The elements that must be established to prove a theft by deception charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4 are relatively brief. In this regard, the defendant must have knowingly or purposefully obtained the property of another by “deception.” What gets a little tricky here is how the prosecutor proves an intent to deceive. In this regard, the statute provides scenarios where deception exists:

  1. Where the the defendant creates or reinforces a false impression, including deception as to the law, value, etc. (e.g. soliciting or collecting funds for a charitable purpose);
  2. Where the defendant prevents another from acquiring information which would affect their judgment concerning a transaction; and
  3. The defendant does not to correct a false impression which the defendant previously created or reinforced, or which the defendant knows to be influencing another to whom he stands in a fiduciary or confidential relationship.

You will note that a key component with respect to all of these scenarios is some level of intent to deceive. It naturally follows then that where the accused thinks his statement is true, such as where he or she makes an honest mistake, the requirements of 2C:20-4 are not met.

Penalties That Apply to Theft by Deception

If you are convicted of theft by deception in the second degree, the jail term is 5-10 years and the maximum fine is $150,000. A theft by deception in the third degree carries up to 5 years in prison and a fine as high as $15,000. There is a potential jail term of 18 months and fine of $10,000 for theft by deception in the fourth degree. For a disorderly persons offense of theft by deception, you may face up to six (6) months in prison and fines up to $1,000.00.

If you are facing a felony charge of theft by deception at the Superior Court or a disorderly persons offense in West Milford, Ringwood, Paterson, Wayne, Clifton, Passaic City or some other municipal court, we can help you. An attorney with experience handling theft charges is available for free consultation now.

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