New Jersey White Collar Crime Lawyers Defend Against Fraud Charges
Unlike other crimes, fraud charges usually do not begin with an arrest. If you are being questioned by corporate lawyers, your employer, or law enforcement officers, you should have an experienced attorney by your side to defend you from the very beginning. Without an attorney’s guidance, you may not be able to foresee how your statements can later be used against you if you are prosecuted for fraud.
A fraud conviction can result in jail time, costly fines, and a criminal record. In these tough economic times, it can be nearly impossible to get a job with a fraud conviction on your record. There are so many qualified applicants competing for so few positions, that a blemish on your record will often immediately disqualify you. At Shebell & Shebell, we strive to help our clients avoid a conviction. Our team of criminal trial lawyers includes former prosecutors and judges. Having worked both sides of fraud cases, we have a unique advantage over other law firms. Our insight helps us to develop the optimal legal strategy to get your charges dismissed outright, or downgraded to a more favorable charge such as disorderly conduct. We have a successful track record of making deals with municipal prosecutors to get fraud charges downgraded to municipal ordinance violations, which result in no jail time and no criminal record.
What is Fraud?
Fraud is when someone acts dishonestly in order to gain an advantage (usually a financial advantage). To prove that you committed fraud, the prosecution must demonstrate:
- That you misrepresented a material fact
- That you knew or should have known you were misleading the victim
- With the intent to defraud the victim
- That the victim reasonably relied on your fraudulent statement; and
- The victim suffered actual damages
In order for conduct to constitute legally actionable fraud, the prosecution must establish all five of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, if you accidentally mislead someone, or are ultimately unsuccessful in your attempt to commit fraud, you may have a viable defense.
New Jersey courts have held that withholding the truth when it should have been disclosed is the equivalent of misrepresentation. For example, if you are selling a home or business, and fail to disclose a known structural defect or liability during the transfer, you may be liable for fraudulent concealment.
Types of Fraudulent Crimes
There are many types of fraud-related offenses in New Jersey, including:
- Credit card fraud – This offense often involves credit cards that have been physically stolen, found, or loaned to a friend or family member and used beyond the authorized limit or for unauthorized purposes. Other scenarios include obtaining a credit card with someone else’s information, or fraudulently misrepresenting your financial condition in order to obtain a credit card.
- Check fraud – It is unlawful to pass a bad check or money order when you know that it will not be honored. In certain situations you will be legally presumed to have known you were committing fraud, for example, if you did not have an account with the bank at the time you issued the check. The severity of the penalty depends on the value of the check. Checks for less than $200 may be charged as disorderly persons offenses. For checks up to $1,000, you may be convicted of a fourth degree crime. Passing a bad check up to $75,000 is a third degree crime, and larger checks can result in a conviction for a second-degree crime.
- Theft by deception – A person can be charged with this offense if they purposely obtain the property of another by deception. Examples include failure of a contractor to perform work after receiving payment, or soliciting money for a charity with the intent of keeping it for oneself. Penalties are determined by the value of property taken and can include significant state prison sentences.
- Identity theft – Using someone else’s identity to obtain some benefit, including money, goods or services, is a serious crime in New Jersey. Other common forms of identity theft include using someone else’s identity to obtain a loan or facilitate illegal immigration. Penalties vary depending on the number of victims and the value of property or money obtained.
- Forgery – One cannot alter or forge another person’s writing without their consent in order to defraud or injury them. The term “writing” is a technical legal term, and can include any type of printing, corporate securities (stocks and bonds), retail sales receipts, UPC labels, checks, credit cards or identification cards.
- Computer and Internet fraud – New Jersey law criminalizes computer hacking, eBay auction fraud, phishing schemes, spamming, money transfer fraud, e-mail spoofing and Craigslist fraud. Some of these offenses are second-degree crimes punishable by up to ten years in New Jersey State Prison.
- Money laundering – Money laundering is the process of disguising the source of property or money obtained through illegal activity by channeling it through a legitimate business. Penalties depend on the value of property involved, and can carry a sentence of ten to twenty years in prison.
- Healthcare fraud – This includes patients who deceive their insurance companies, as well as doctors who engage in multi-million dollar conspiracies to defraud insurance providers by billing for services not rendered, or other fraudulent schemes.
Other common types of fraud include construction fraud, Medicare fraud, mortgage fraud, motor vehicle fraud, tax fraud, unemployment fraud and securities fraud.
Why Shebell & Shebell Is One of New Jersey’s Leading Fraud Defense Law Firms
Our trial lawyers use our extensive criminal defense experience to achieve a positive outcome in every case, every time. We know how to challenge the admissibility of evidence and elicit favorable testimony from witnesses. Our savvy lawyers stay on the cutting edge of technology. We will locate and use any electronic data trails to your advantage. When possible, we work with prosecutors to arrange for sentencing alternatives (such as Pre-Trial Intervention, or PTI) so as to help you avoid jail time and a criminal record. We have successfully represented numerous clients charged with fraud in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean Counties. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.