New Jersey Theft by Deception Defense Attorney (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4)

Deception Defense AttorneyA person is guilty of theft if he purposely obtains property of another by deception. A person deceives if he purposely:

  • 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
  • Prevents another from acquiring information which would affect his judgment of a transaction
  • 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.

Punishment for Theft by Deception 

If convicted, the possible penalty depends on the grade of the deception. There are three grades or degrees of theft by deception:

Second Degree ($75,000 or more) – If convicted, up to 10 years in a NJ State Prison

Third Degree ($500 to $75,000) – If convicted, up to 5 years in a NJ State Prison

Fourth Degree ($200 to $500) – If convicted, up to 18 months in a NJ State Prison 

Disorderly Person Offense (Less than $200) – If convicted, up to 6 months in County Jail

Proving Theft by Deception in NJ

The state must prove that the defendant purposely obtained the property of another by deception. The term “deceive” does not include falsity as to matters without monetary significance, or puffing or exaggeration by statements unlikely to deceive ordinary people. Deception includes both creating and reinforcing a false impression. A false impression can be created or reinforced by non-verbal behavior. A New Jersey criminal defense attorney can advise you as to whether your acts constituted deception.

The defendant can either create or reinforce a false impression as to the law, value, intention, or other state of mind. The state must prove that the defendant knew that the impression that he or she created or reinforced was false.

Defending Theft by Deception in New Jersey

Although taking advantage of another person’s mistake is not a crime, preventing another from getting information which may affect his judgment of a transaction is deception. The state must also prove that the victim relied upon the deception and was actually deceived. If a New Jersey criminal defense attorney can prove that the victim did not turn over the property in reliance on the misrepresentation, the defendant is not guilty. The state must further prove that the defendant acted with the intent to deceive the possessor of the property in order to induce him to part with the property.

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