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Defending against identity theft charges

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

The crime of identity theft in New Jersey has a specific definition. Any conviction must come only after the state proves that someone took certain actions.

That said, there are many possible cases the state could build. This article will look at a few of them as well as at the varying grades of potential identity theft penalties.

Possible examples of identity theft

Identity theft crimes in New Jersey generally have to do with someone assuming another identity. The person in question typically needs to have done this in order to avoid responsibilities, cause harm or benefit personally.

There are various ways in which someone might do this. Some examples might include:

  • Making misleading claims to collect someone else’s state welfare benefits
  • Posing as a utility company representative and collecting non-existent bills
  • Obtaining and using personal information to avoid paying credit card debts

There is a common misconception that identity theft must happen over the internet. State law specifically provides that it is not limited to electronic communications.

Grades of criminal penalties

Identity theft can be either a fourth-, third- or second-degree crime. A first offense dealing with a single victim and an amount less than $500 would likely be a fourth-degree crime. Offenses against five or more people or those involving over $75,000 would likely be second-degree crimes.

There is one notable exception to the definition of identity theft. That is when a person under 19 years of age uses someone else’s identity in an attempt to buy tobacco, alcoholic drinks or other consumer products that are off-limits for minors.

Allegations of identity theft often come after robust investigations. Understanding this crime, its context in the law and the facts of the case in question together form the starting point of a defense strategy.