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Criminal Law: Fraud

New Jersey Fraud Lawyers 

You have been arrested and charged with fraud. What now? For many people, fraud charges come as a surprise. Unlike other activities that most people know are illegal (such as selling cocaine or assaulting a police officer), “fraud” is a general concept that is often not well understood.

In broad terms, “fraud” refers to any practice that results in obtaining something of value through deceptive means or the use of false pretenses. Falsifying financial information on a mortgage application is one example. But, there are numerous other examples as well; and, under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (and various other state and federal statutes), many types of fraud have the potential to lead to criminal prosecution and life-altering criminal penalties.

If you are facing fraud charges in New Jersey, it is imperative that you seek experienced legal representation right away from skilled New Jersey fraud lawyers. Many fraud charges carry the potential for substantial fines and long-term imprisonment, and avoiding the life-changing consequences of a conviction requires the advice and representation of a skilled criminal defense attorney. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., many of our attorneys have decades of experience representing criminal defendants in New Jersey, and together our defense team offers centuries of proven results in high-stakes criminal matters.

Providing Defenses for All Fraud-Related Offenses

Our New Jersey fraud lawyers represent individuals and organizations charged with all types of fraud-related offenses. Contact us today for a confidential assessment of your case involving allegations of:

  • Bank fraud – Including submitting false financial information and using bank accounts to commit other fraudulent acts
  • Bankruptcy fraud – Including concealing assets in a Chapter 7 liquidation or omitting sources of income during a Chapter 13 reorganization
  • Credit card fraud – Including credit card theft, use of a credit card in a fraudulent transaction and obtaining credit under false pretenses
  • Embezzlement – Including theft or misappropriation of cash or property entrusted to your possession
  • Forgery, counterfeiting and criminal simulation – Including check forgery and counterfeiting, currency counterfeiting, and forgery of other bank or credit documents
  • Insurance fraud – Including filing a fraudulent insurance claim and producing or selling fraudulent auto insurance cards
  • Internet fraud – Including use of the Internet to make fraudulent purchases, to apply for a loan or credit, or to commit any other form of fraud
  • Mail or wire fraud – Including sending letters or packages via USPS or private carrier and using the phone or Internet to commit a fraudulent offense
  • Medicaid fraud – Including submitting false information on an application for Medicaid benefits and submitting false claims for Medicaid reimbursement
  • Odometer fraud – Including “rolling back” or replacing an odometer and misrepresenting motor vehicle mileage
  • Tax fraud – Including underreporting taxable income, falsely claiming credits or deductions, and submitting other false information to the New Jersey Division of Taxation or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

 

Defending Against Fraud Charges: Challenging the Prosecution’s Evidence of Intent

In most, if not all cases, proving criminal culpability for fraud requires proof of “intent.” In other words, if you did not intend to defraud a person, company, bank, government agency or other institution, then simply committing acts that would otherwise constitute fraud does not amount to a criminal offense.

As with all elements of criminal charges in New Jersey, in fraud cases, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s intent “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that the government’s attorneys must convince the jurors that you intended to commit fraud with 99 percent certainty. As a result, if you can raise any questions about your subjective intent at the time of the alleged offense, this can be enough to protect you against a conviction at trial.

However, preventing the prosecutor’s office from proving intent beyond a reasonable doubt is not necessarily as straightforward as it may initially seem. There are a number of ways that prosecutors can prove intent to defraud, and a confession or “smoking gun” email or text message is not necessarily required.

Our New Jersey fraud lawyers are highly-skilled at challenging the government’s evidence of intent; and, if this is a potential defense in your case, we will pursue every available strategy for preventing the government from meeting its burden of proof.

 

New Jersey Criminal Penalties for Fraud 

Most fraud offenses are classified as either disorderly persons offenses, fourth-degree indictable offenses or third-degree indictable offenses under New Jersey law. If you have been charged with a fraud-related offense, it is critical to determine the specific allegations against you and the specific penalties that are on the table. This will not only help you understand the severity of your case, but it will also help to clarify the most-effective defense strategy for your case.

Potential penalties for disorderly persons offenses, fourth-degree indictable offenses or third-degree indictable offenses under New Jersey law include:

  • Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine
  • Fourth-Degree Indictable Offenses – Up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Third-Degree Indictable Offenses – Three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine

FAQ's for New Jersey Fraud Lawyers

Q: In addition to lack of intent, what are some other potential defenses to criminal fraud charges in New Jersey?

While challenging the prosecution’s evidence of intent is one way to defend against criminal fraud allegations, it is by no means the only potential defense to fraud. Even if you are confident that you did not intend to commit fraud, it will still be important to identify and assert any other defenses that you may have available. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the defenses that our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers may be able to assert on your behalf include:

  • Lack of Evidence – If the evidence of any element of the alleged offense is lacking (not just intent), then the prosecution will not be able to meet its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • No Illegality – Many fraud laws are extraordinarily complicated, and it is entirely possible that you were mistakenly arrested for fraud. If what you did was not illegal, then our attorneys can use the available evidence to prove that you are not guilty of a criminal offense.
  • Violations of Your Constitutional Rights – Potential Constitutional violations include unlawful searches and seizures and failure to read your Miranda rights prior to a custodial interrogation. If the police violated your Constitutional rights, then any evidence obtained as a result of the violation should be deemed inadmissible in your case. Without admissible evidence, the prosecution cannot prove that you are guilty of fraud regardless of the true facts at hand.

Q: What is the definition of “forgery” under New Jersey law?

Forgery is considered a type of fraud defense in New Jersey; and, in most cases, it is prosecuted as a third-degree indictable offense. Under Section 2C:21-1 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice:

“A person is guilty of forgery if, with purpose to defraud or injure anyone, or with knowledge that he is facilitating a fraud or injury to be perpetrated by anyone, the actor:

“(1) Alters or changes any writing of another without his authorization;

“(2) Makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues or transfers any writing so that it purports to be the act of another who did not authorize that act or of a fictitious person, or to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or to be a copy of an original when no such original existed; or

“(3) Utters any writing which he knows to be forged in a manner specified in paragraph (1) or (2).

“’Writing’ includes printing or any other method of recording information, money, coins, . . . credit cards, . . . access devices, and other symbols of value . . . or identification. . . . This section shall apply without limitation to forged, copied or imitated checks.”

Q: What should I do if I have been arrested for fraud in New Jersey?

If you have been arrested with fraud or charged with a fraud-related crime in New Jersey, the single most important thing you can do is to engage legal counsel immediately. You need to protect yourself, and the best way to do this is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to advise you and speak with the police and prosecutors on your behalf. While much of what you see on television and in movies is fictionalized, it is true that anything you say can be used against you, and you need to avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your defense. In addition to speaking with a New Jersey fraud lawyer as soon as possible, you should also:

  • Exercise your right to remain silent. Do not answer any questions about the alleged offense, and do not try to be “helpful” by volunteering information. Even if you are certain that you are innocent, you need to speak with an attorney before saying anything that could jeopardize your ability to defend yourself.
  • Preserve relevant records. If you have been charged with fraud in relation to your business in New Jersey, then you need to preserve any business records that may be relevant to your case. Not only will this ensure that you have evidence to defend against the allegations of fraud, but destroying records (or allowing records to be destroyed in the normal course of business) could lead to additional charges regardless of whether you are guilty of fraud.
  • Write down key information. When you speak with your attorney, you will want to provide him or her with as much information as you can. To ensure that you don’t forget anything – and to help yourself recollect as many details as possible – you should try to write down everything you can remember that might potentially be relevant to your defense.
  • Stay off of social media. Not only should you avoid speaking with the police, but you should avoid speaking about your case in general. This includes staying off of social media. If you post something that can be used as evidence against you, you can expect it to show up during your criminal trial.
  • Avoid unlawful conduct. If you have committed a fraud offense, you need to be sure that you are not continuing to violate the law. Your attorneys at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. can help you determine what action you need to take and advise you regarding any conduct you need to avoid.

Q: Am I really guilty of criminal fraud?

Maybe, but at this point it is too early to tell. An arrest is not a conviction, and right now you need to avoid making any assumptions about your guilt or innocence. When you engage our defense team to represent you, we will thoroughly evaluate your case and provide you with a straightforward assessment of the defenses you have available. Once you know what you are up against, then you can start thinking about the types of outcomes you can expect at trial.

Why Choose the Defense Lawyers at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. for Fraud Defense in New Jersey?

If you have been charged with fraud in New Jersey, you are facing fines and incarceration, and you need to do everything possible to protect your future. Here are five reasons why you should choose the New Jersey fraud lawyers at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.:

  • Experience – Our fraud defense lawyers have well over a century of combined experience.
  • Results – This experience includes securing favorable results for numerous clients charged with a broad range of fraud crimes under New Jersey law.
  • Personalized Defense – In order to achieve a favorable result in your case, we will focus on the unique details of your situation to build a personalized defense.
  • Trial-Readiness – While our goal will be to secure a favorable pre-trial result if possible, our defense attorneys will be fully prepared to take your case to court if necessary.
  • Commitment – Whatever it takes, we are relentlessly committed to protecting our clients against the life-changing consequences of criminal convictions.

Request a Confidential Criminal Defense Consultation with Our Experienced New Jersey Fraud Lawyers

For more information about how the New Jersey fraud lawyers at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. can defend you against charges of fraud, please contact us now to schedule a confidential case assessment. You can call 1-877-HELMER1 to request an appointment at any of our 16 convenient office locations, or send us your contact information and a member of our defense team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

 

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