Identity theft occurs when someone uses someone else’s personal information to pose as them to obtain goods, services or anything of value in their name. Today, identity theft is usually a cybercrime, or a theft involving computers and likely committed online. For example, a thief might seek to identify information about people by hacking into a bank or corporation’s database of customers’ credit cards.
Anytime a computer network is the target of a crime, such as fraud, theft, extortion or threats (terrorism) or a computer is used in the execution of a crime, it is considered a cybercrime.
If you have been indicted for the computer crime of identity theft in New Jersey, you should exercise your legal right to remain silent when questioned and ask to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. If you have yet to be arrested but investigators have seized or asked you to turn over your computer or cell phone, then you need an experienced computer crimes defense lawyer.
The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can act quickly and aggressively to defend you if you face identity theft and/or cybercrime charges in New Jersey. Our criminal defense team is made up of former N.J. prosecutors and public defenders, and we have offices in Red Bank and across New Jersey. Contact us now at (877) 328-0980 or online.
What are New Jersey’s Identity Theft and Cybercrime Laws?
As the use and capabilities of computers and computer networks have greatly expanded over the last couple of decades, New Jersey’s legislators have tried to keep up by adopting new law to cover computer crimes. If you have been indicted for identity theft as a cybercrime, you may face several charges and, if convicted, harsh punishment.
Identity theft in New Jersey is a crime of either the fourth degree, third degree or second degree, depending on the value of the theft involved and whether the individual has one or more previous convictions for identity theft. Identity theft is a fourth-degree crime when someone impersonates another or uses personal information to obtain a benefit worth less than $500. It is charged as a third-degree offense for values of $500 but less than $75,000 or if it involves two to four people, and a second-degree offense if the benefit derived is worth $75,000 or more or there are five or more victims.
New Jersey’s computer criminal activity offense encompasses a broad range of activity but generally occurs when a person purposely and knowingly and without authorization accesses or interferes with data or computer systems. One specific facet of the crime addresses accessing a computer “for the purpose of executing a scheme to defraud or to obtain services, property, personal identifying information, or money, from the owner of a computer or any third party.” This is a crime of the third degree, or a second-degree offense if the value of the services, property, personal identifying information, or money obtained or sought exceeds $5,000.
Further, New Jersey has made it illegal for a person to purposely and knowingly and without authorization access any data, computer, computer storage medium, software, computer equipment or computer system and to knowingly or recklessly disclose any of the data, software or personal identifying information found therein. Wrongful access and disclosure is a third-degree crime. It can be upgraded to a second-degree offense if the offender purposely or knowingly disclosed information that was protected by law or court order.
A third-degree offense in New Jersey is punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. A second-degree offense is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Defenses Against Cybercrime Identity Theft Charges
If you face charges of identity theft and associated cybercrimes, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. Unfortunately, it is likely that investigators started gathering evidence against you several months before you were indicted. You’ll need an experienced criminal defense attorney to challenge your indictment and to develop a solid defense to the charges against you.
The investigative team from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will work to challenge the validity of charges against you. We will examine the government’s search warrants to determine whether they were overly broad and determine whether we can initiate motions to challenge the government’s expert witnesses and/or whether there is insufficient evidence to convict.
If we cannot get charges dropped, we can have computer professionals we regularly consult examine the forensic evidence being used against you while we work to undermine the government’s “case theory,” their explanation of what you did and how and why.
We may be able to challenge identify theft charges based on:
- Lack of intent. You may have accessed information accidentally.
- No unlawful purpose. You may have obtained identifying information but done nothing to obtain money, goods, or services with it.
- Authorization. You may have had overt or implied permission to access information and/or to act in the alleged victim’s name.
- False accusation. Maybe you were not the one using the computer during the commission of the alleged crime.
Our defense strategy will depend on the specific facts of the case, but we will work to obtain the best available outcome for you. If a conviction would be the first offense on your record, New Jersey offers diversionary programs for nonviolent first offenders that may be appropriate for you. If you agreed to and completed such a program, the charges against you could be dropped.
Hire a NJ Cybercrime Identity Theft Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with cybercrime identity theft in New Jersey, you need experienced N.J. white collar crime attorneys to craft a legal defense for you. There are numerous ways we can raise questions about cybercrime and identity theft charges. We will work diligently to help you avoid punishment or to negotiate the most favorable resolution to your case possible.
To set up a free legal consultation, phone (877) 450-8301 or complete our online form today.