I represented several clients recently in Monmouth County and Middlesex County charged with theft by deception in violation of N.J.S. 2C:20-4. The statute provides in pertinent part:

§ 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 grading of theft by deception offenses in New Jersey are as follows:

  • $75,000.00 or more – Second Degree Theft by Deception
  • $500.00 – $75,000.00 – Third Degree Theft by Deception
  • $200.00 – $500.00 – Fourth Degree Theft by Deception

A second degree crime has a presumption of incarceration and a range of five (5) to ten (10) years in state prison. A third degree crime has a range of three (3) to five (5) years in state prison. There is no presumption of incarceration on a third or fourth degree crime so, if the defendant has no prior criminal history, the defendant can be given a probationary sentence if convicted. The defendant is also eligible for the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. Finally, a fourth degree crime has a maximum penalty of eighteen (18) months in state prison if convicted.