New Jersey takes theft crimes very seriously and the legislature has specifically written the theft by deception statute to be very broad so it can cover various different acts of theft. A conviction for theft by deception will result in a permanent criminal record and can expose you to probation, community service, thousands in restitution and even incarceration. However, the broad language of the statute can also offer some leeway to an experienced criminal defense attorney to pinpoint issues regarding the intent to deceive and actual value alleged. At Proetta & Oliver, we have handled literally thousands of criminal and municipal charges including numerous theft cases. We represent clients for theft throughout New Jersey including Secaucus, Union City, Belleville, Montclair, North Bergen, and West New York. If you would like to speak with an experienced criminal theft lawyer contact our Jersey City office today at (201) 793-8018 for a free initial consultation regarding your charges.
2C:20-4 New Jersey Theft by Deception Law
The New Jersey statute for theft by deception is provided below, in pertinent part, for your reading convenience.
§ 2C:20-4. Theft by Deception
A person is guilty of theft if he purposely obtains property of another by deception. A person deceives if he purposely:
a. Creates or reinforces a false impression, including false impressions as to law, value, intention or other state of mind, and including, but not limited to, a false impression that the person is soliciting or collecting funds for a charitable purpose; but deception as to a person’s intention to perform a promise shall not be inferred from the fact alone that he did not subsequently perform the promise;
b. Prevents another from acquiring information which would affect his judgment of a transaction; or
c. Fails to correct a false impression which the deceiver previously created or reinforced, or which the deceiver knows to be influencing another to whom he stands in a fiduciary or confidential relationship.
Four Basic Elements of a Theft by Deception Charge
As mentioned earlier, the above cited statute language is very broad, which means that a crime of theft by deception can happen in a number of different ways. However, there are four basic elements that must be present in order to prove that a theft by deception has occurred. The state must show that the property was obtained by the defendant; the property was obtained by deception; it was the defendant’s intent to deceive; and the victim believed the defendant which resulted in an economic gain or loss. These elements are very similar to other theft and fraud charges and it is common for us to represent clients for theft by deception, who are also been charged with credit card fraud, receiving stolen property, bad checks or even forgery.
NJ Penalties for Theft by Deception are based on the Amount Allegedly Taken
A theft by deception charge in New Jersey can be very bad for the accused. Regardless of whether you are charged with a disorderly persons offense in municipal court or a felony-level offense in superior court, the consequences of a conviction for a 2c:20-4 offense could be devastating. The penalties may include significant prison or jail time, as well as heavy fines. Just like the degree of the charges, the precise penalties in a theft by deception case are typically determined by the value of the property that was unlawfully taken. The theft grading and penalties are as follows:
- $75,000 or more: 2nd degree felony; maximum 5 – 10 years in state prison with presumption of incarceration
- $500 – $75,000: 3rd degree felony; maximum 3 – 5 years in state prison
- $200 – $500: 4th degree felony; maximum 18 months in state prison
- Less than $200: disorderly persons offense; maximum 6 months in county jail
In most theft cases such as theft by deception, there is a clear and identifiable victim who had their property taken from them. If there was a victim involved in your theft case, it is possible that you could be ordered to pay restitution for the losses suffered by the victim. Ordinarily, this kind of monetary restitution occurs in a civil lawsuit, which is separate and distinct from a criminal proceeding. However, in certain types of criminal cases, including theft cases, the judge can require the defendant to pay restitution to compensate the victim for losses suffered as a result of the offense. In a theft case, restitution will typically come in the form of reimbursement to the victim for the loss of money or the value of property taken.
Hudson County NJ Theft by Deception Defense Attorney
The law firm of Proetta & Oliver represents clients for theft by deception in Hudson County and throughout New Jersey including Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Weehawken, Harrison, and Bayonne. If you have been charged with a theft by deception it is important that you know your rights and legal options. Contact us today at (201) 793-8018 for a free initial consultation with an experienced theft defense lawyer or to schedule an appointment at our Jersey City office.