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Identity Theft

Impersonating A Person To Obtain a Credit Card, Bank Account, Driver’s License, or Some Other Benefit

Identity theft is a growing problem across the United States and Essex County and the number of charges is anticipated to grow as technology continues to advance.  Not surprisingly, NJ has enacted stiff legislation under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17 for theft of identity. One of the biggest components of this law is exposure to a considerable state prison sentence in most cases involving someone stealing the identity of another. It is abundantly important that you therefore seek immediate assistance if you have been arrested in Newark, Belleville, Montclair or another municipality for using someone’s name, identification, credit card or other personal information to commit a fraud. An attorney on our 8 member defense team is available to speak to you at 973-733-2208 now.

How Can Someone Commit Identify Theft under 2C:21-17 in New Jersey?

There are five (5) types of conduct that can result in identity theft pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17.  First, it is a crime to impersonate or assume a false identity and do an act in the assumed character or false identity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit for himself or another or to injure or defraud another. It is also a crime to pretend to represent a person or organization and do an act in that capacity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit or injuring another. The third type of conduct that is criminalized under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17 is impersonating another or assuming a false identity or makes a false or misleading statement regarding the identity of another, in an oral or written application for services, for the purposes of obtaining services. Fourth, obtaining someone else’s personal identifying information (such as social security number, etc) without their consent for the purposes of receiving a benefit, attempting to receive a benefit, avoiding the payment of a debt or legal obligation, or avoiding criminal prosecution. The final type of conduct that is criminalized under this statute is impersonating another or assuming another person’s identity, in the course of making a written or oral application for services, with the purposes of avoiding payment for prior services.

What Does the Identity Theft Statute Mean by “Obtain a Benefit”?

When the statute refers to “obtaining a benefit”, it means obtaining any property, any dollar amount, or any services. The statute also considers avoiding payment of any pecuniary amount as “obtaining a benefit”. Obtaining a benefit also includes acting for the purpose of injuring or harming another person.

Is Impersonation or Identity Theft a Felony?

Impersonation or Identity Theft is a crime of the fourth degree if the defendant obtained a benefit or deprived another of a benefit of less than $500.00 and the offense only involves the identity of one victim. If the defendant is being charged as a second or subsequent offender, the offense constitutes a crime of the third degree. If the defendant obtained a benefit or deprived another of a benefit in an amount between $500.00 and $75,000.00, OR if the offense involves the identity of between two and five victims, he or she is guilty of a crime of the third degree. The defendant is guilty of a crime of the second degree if the benefit obtained or deprived to another is $75,000.00 or more, OR if the offense involves the identity of five or more victims. Under each of these scenarios, the defendant is facing an indictable offense (i.e. a felony) and will likely have the matter heard at the Superior Court level.

Newark Identity Theft Defense Lawyers

The fact that the degree of the crime is aggravated based upon the number of identities assumed or used means that crimes prosecuted under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17 can very easily become crimes of the third or even second degree, exposing the defendant to years in prison and large fines and restitution. If you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of Impersonation or Theft of Identity, it is crucial to obtain a lawyer that can protect your rights and keep you out of prison. The team of criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan Marshall includes former prosecutors who know the ins and outs of Impersonation and Identity Theft prosecutions. These experienced lawyers will work tirelessly to get you the best possible result when it is your day in court. Call our Essex County criminal defense lawyers now at 973-710-1520.