Theft by Deception

The following section contains the New Jersey criminal theft by deception statute and some fact patterns that are typical of this offense. Before we get there however, it is important that you understand the elements of the offense. In order to convict, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had two purposes:

  • the purpose to obtain property of another
  • the purpose to engage in deceptive conduct proscribed in sections a through c of the statute below

The Court in State v. Kruger may have put it most succinctly…Theft by deception occurs when a person obtains the property of another by purposely creating a false impression.

Take a moment to review the following sections. If you have any questions please feel free to contact my office 24/7. I am a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer and appear in courts all over the State of NJ including Essex County.

2C:20-4.  Theft by Deception

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.

Common Scenarios Where Theft by Deception may be Charged

  • Bad Checks
  • False Insurance Claims
  • Fraudulently obtaining benefits from public assistance programs
  • resubmission of already paid invoices.
  • acquiring  loans by making misrepresentations about the property
  • taking money for work and not performing any of it
  • federal mail fraud

Remember, theft offenses are aggregated, meaning if the alleged theft is part of a continuing course of conduct, the amounts can be added together  to charge higher degree of offense.

As noted above, the State must prove your deceptive mind set to convict, this is not always an easy thing to do, and a good NJ criminal defense attorney will be able to assert many viable defenses to a charge of theft by deception.

Call to discuss the specifics of your case with a New Jersey and Essex County criminal defense lawyer  at 908-451-2667.


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