Defending NJ 2C:20-4. Theft by deception.
After you read the following NJ Criminal Statute (Theft by deception) you may decide that you need the help of a lawyer, or need a legal interpretation of how this statute applies to your case. The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 20 years of experience, including a former municipal prosecutor. Call the number above for a free 24×7 phone consultation.
Summary of the Theft by Deception Charge
In New Jersey, theft is defined as the unlawful taking of something that belongs to another person with the intent to deprive the owner of the property (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3). The charge of theft by deception under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4 differs in that it additionally requires that the person charged used a deceptive act or deceptive words which the victim relied upon in making the decision to turn over tangible or intangible property.
Common theft by deception circumstances include creating a false impression that the person is collecting money for a charity, such as the PBA, or the failure of a home improvement contractor to perform work after receiving payment. Also, theft by deception charges can be brought for matters such as padding expense accounts, filing false insurance claims, obtaining benefits from public assistance programs by under reporting or omitting information, resubmitting paid invoices for additional payment or acquiring loans by misrepresenting the status of collateral.
The State’s Burden of Proof for Theft by Deception in NJ
The prosecution must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction for theft by deception in New Jersey. First, it must be proven that the defendant obtained the property of another. Next, the defendant must have purposely obtained the property by deceiving the victim. The third element requires that the victim relied upon the deception in giving the property to the defendant.
Possible Defenses to Theft by Deception
The first strategy that an experienced criminal defense attorney will employ on a defendant’s behalf is pre-trial negotiation with the prosecutor to downgrade the charge. The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 100 years of combined experience, including a former municipal prosecutor. Call the number above for a free phone consultation if you have been charged with theft by deception in New Jersey.
Depending on the circumstances, a defense could be mounted on the grounds that it was not the defendant’s conscious objective to deceive, that the defendant did not know that his or her statements were false, or that the defendant will perform the promise given to the victim at the time of the alleged theft. If any of these defenses are valid in an individual’s case, it could refute one of the necessary elements and help the defendant avoid a conviction for theft by deception.
Penalties for a Theft by Deception Conviction in NJ
The monetary value of the property unlawfully taken or controlled by deception determines the degree of this criminal charge in New Jersey. A value of $75,000 or more is a second degree crime. The taking of property valued between $500 and $75,000 is a third degree crime. If the value is between $200 and $500, its theft is a fourth degree crime. All of the above convictions carry possible jail time and will appear on a background check. In no case should a defendant simply plead guilty when faced with a theft by deception charge. It is very strongly advised to seek vigorous defense counsel. The criminal lawyers of Villani & DeLuca can discuss your charges with you and help determine a plan of action in defending your case. Call (732) 965-3350 today for a free, no obligation consultation.
NJ Statute: 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.
The term “deceive” does not, however, include falsity as to matters having no pecuniary significance, or puffing or exaggeration by statements unlikely to deceive ordinary persons in the group addressed.
L.1978, c.95; amended 2003, c.43.
AKA: NJ Criminal Charge 2C:20-4, Violation 2C:20-4, Offense 2C:20-4
Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website lis.njleg.state.nj.us as of August 2012.