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New Jersey Facebook Profile Case Tests Limits of Identity Theft Laws

November 11, 2011 | Posted In Recent News - Criminal Law|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Attorneys representing a woman accused of setting up a fake Facebook profile in the name of her former boyfriend are currently trying to get her case dismissed. 

The woman, who had posted disparaging comments on the phony Facebook page, has been indicted on charges of fourth-degree identity theft. The accusations are based on a charge that the profile she created for her ex after the end of their relationship contained both his photograph and other personal information.  She also began posting on the account, making nasty comments about his character, his lifestyle choices and his job. 

When her ex-boyfriend- who also happens to be a former New Jersey detective- was alerted to the fake profile, he filed a police complaint alleging that he was being impersonated online. 

While Facebook's terms and conditions prohibit the creation of fake profiles in other people's names, the attorney for the accused alleges that charges of identity theft do not apply in this case.  Thus far, no court has ruled that creating a fake online profile of someone without permission is equal to impersonation or identity theft, and her attorney is arguing that New Jersey’s identity theft statutes are inapplicable because they do not make clear whether they apply to the use of someone's identity on social media sites. Her lawyer is also arguing that when you post anything on the Internet, you enter the realm of free speech.

The Morris County prosecutor's office says that although the law does not mention Facebook, or any other social media or electronic device, it does make clear that faking another person's identity, even online, is illegal. 

The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons who have been charged with DUI, sex crimes, drug crimes, fraud, assault and other crimes across New Jersey.

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