New Jersey Identity Theft Lawyers
Skilled Defense Lawyers Committed to Mounting a Strong Defense for Clients Accused of Identity Theft in Essex County, Union County, Morris County, Middlesex County, Bergen County and Somerset County, NJ
In this day and age, your personal identifying information is used not only to verify your identity, but to assess your creditworthiness, qualifications for entering educational institutions and certain professions requiring licensing and in any number of diverse situations. Because of the important role that this information now plays and the prevalence of internet-based identity theft schemes, both the state of New Jersey and the federal government impose serious criminal penalties upon those convicted of identity theft or the impersonation of others to obtain a benefit via fraudulent means.
Because of the expansive and strengthened laws governing identity theft, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you have been accused of stealing someone else’s identity. At Zegas Law, we understand the broad nature of both the state and federal legal statutes governing identity theft—and we also know that sometimes the broad reach of the identity theft statute can lead the prosecution to levy these charges improperly. Our experienced New Jersey identity theft defense lawyers are skilled in challenging accusations of identity theft both at the state and federal level, so if you have been accused of committing identity theft, call or contact our team today.
Understanding What Constitutes Identity Theft in Northern New Jersey
While identity theft cases can be prosecuted under either state or federal law, under New Jersey law, you can be convicted of identity theft based on several types of actions, including:
- Impersonating another person or assuming a false identity to obtain some type of benefit or defraud or harm another, or to avoid paying for prior services
- Pretending to represent another person or organization to obtain some type of benefit or defraud or harm another
- Impersonating another person, assuming a false identity or making a false or misleading statement about someone else’s identity in order to obtain services
- Obtaining another person’s identifying information and using it to assume his or her identity, with the purpose of fraudulently obtaining a benefit or avoiding paying a debt or criminal prosecution
The New Jersey identity theft statute is broad-based and can be used in any type of situation where the defendant used another person’s identity to obtain a benefit—whether that benefit involved using another person’s Social Security number to obtain credit cards fraudulently or even to gain access to certain professional opportunities.
Identity Theft Charges in North Jersey May be Upgraded Based on Aggravating Circumstances
The charges that apply in these identity theft cases are prosecuted as felony-level charges (at the second, third or fourth degree) based upon the number of people involved and the value of the benefit or deprivation involved. For example:
- For first offenders, if only one person is defrauded, and the value of the benefit derived or deprivation created is under $500, fourth-degree felony charges will apply (carrying up to 18 months in jail)
- For second and subsequent offenders, third-degree charges will apply even if the benefit/deprivation is under $500 and only one person was defrauded
- If two to four people are defrauded, or the benefit/deprivation is between $500 and $75,000, third-degree felony charges will apply (carrying between three and five years in jail)
- If five or more people are defrauded, or the benefit/deprivation is more than $75,000, second-degree felony charges will apply (carrying between five and ten years in jail).
- Second-degree felony charges will also apply if the defendant used someone else’s government issued ID (or a fake ID, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate) in an attempt to obtain another type of government issued ID (such as a passport or driver’s license)
Schedule a Confidential Consultation if You Have Been Accused of Identity Theft
The potential penalties that apply upon conviction for identity theft are severe and will likely include substantial time in prison. Our skilled Morris County identity theft defense lawyers are here to formulate the strongest possible defense in your case, which can involve challenging the admissibility of the prosecution’s evidence, the credibility of witnesses and even the value of the alleged benefit that you may have received. For a confidential consultation to discuss options for building a defense in your identity theft case, call us today or fill out this secure online contact form.
Frequently Asked Questions About Identity Theft Crimes
FAQ: What is restitution and why is it particularly important if you have been accused of committing identity theft in New Jersey?
Restitution is financial compensation paid by the person convicted of committing identity theft to the victim of the crime. Restitution in identity theft cases will likely be a part of the punishment imposed in addition to jail time upon conviction, but may include much more than the benefit that the convicted party has actually received. In identity theft cases, restitution includes amounts required for the victim to clear his or her credit history or to satisfy any debts or liens levied against the victim as a result of the identity theft. The actual amounts in question may include the victim’s attorneys’ fees and court costs, as well as any ancillary costs related to the damage caused by the identity theft.
FAQ: Why is the issue of valuation important in identity theft cases?
The grading of the crime of identity theft depends upon the entire value of the benefit that the defendant is accused of deriving, or the value of the victim’s deprivation stemming from the identity theft. In some cases, such as where the defendant is accused of stealing identifying information in order to fraudulently obtain a loan or credit card, valuation may be relatively straightforward. However, in many cases the prosecution may attempt to overstate the value of the benefit derived, or that benefit can be more subjective, making our skilled lawyers’ challenge to the valuation a particularly important tool in getting your charges downgraded if possible.