identity theft

Identity Theft Attorney in Hudson County


Under the laws of the Federal Government and New Jersey, identity theft is a crime. The New Jersey criminal offense of identity theft, found in section N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17, encompasses many different acts or courses of conduct. Each act or crime will be reflected on your criminal record and if convicted, you risk incarceration in a state or county detention facility. The grading of identity theft charges, potential penalties, and common crimes associated with these offenses vary from case to case. Our defense attorneys at the Hudson County criminal defense law firm of William Proetta Criminal Law have represented countless individuals charged with theft and fraud crimes, many of whom have been accused of committing identity theft and similar criminal acts in Jersey City, Hoboken, Kearny, Union City, North Bergen, Bayonne, and throughout New Jersey. Just as we have helped many people in the past, we will assist you with your identity theft charges and other related crimes such as credit card fraudtheft by deceptionextortionforgery and writing bad checks. To discuss your best identity theft defense approach with an experienced lawyer who has the knowledge and proven track record to assist you, contact us at (201) 793-8018 now. Free consultations are provided anytime, day or night, to best serve your needs.


Fundamentally, all identity theft crimes have one commonality, in that the accused is alleged to have purloined, used, or stolen someone else’s personal identifying information without authorization. Personal information can include birth dates, social security numbers, credit card information, maiden names of parents, bank card numbers, or savings and checking account numbers. This information is then used to derive a benefit unique to the individual. The act of taking the information and using it to benefit oneself or another subjects the actor to a criminal charge for identity theft. Specifically, in New Jersey, a person commits identity theft by:

  1. Impersonating anyone, assuming someone else’s identity, or creating the presumption that he is someone else in order to obtain a benefit for himself or to harm another person;
  2. Pretending to represent a person or organization and taking a step in that role toward gaining a benefit for himself or to defraud another;
  3. Impersonating another or leading someone to believe that he is someone else in an effort to obtain services;
  4. Obtaining and using identifying information of another person to receive services, avoid a debt, or to avoid prosecution for an offense;
  5. Impersonating another while making a “false or misleading statement” when applying for services or to avoid paying for prior services.


The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs describes identity theft as the “fraudulent acquisition of another person’s personally identifiable information,” typically for the purpose of realizing a financial benefit or providing false information to law enforcement officials or healthcare companies. Real life identity theft crimes may involve simple facts, such as opening credit cards in the name of another person, or the crimes may include more elaborate schemes designed to bilk millions from insurance or credit card companies. Some of the more frequently seen scenarios and examples of cases that involve identity theft are:

  • Stealing checks;
  • Opening lines of credit in someone else’s name;
  • Fraudulent use of a credit card;
  • Using someone’s identity to obtain new cell phones or accounts;
  • Picking up prescriptions meant for someone else;
  • Uttering forged instruments (i.e. checks or fake prescription);
  • Signing for merchandise meant for someone else;
  • Giving the police false information so that someone other than you is charged with a crime;
  • Using someone’s identity to be treated by a doctor or hospital by using their insurance information;
  • Opening utilities in someone else’s name.


The degree of crime that is filed against you for identity theft largely depends upon the value of the benefit derived from the impersonation or identity theft. How many victims are involved in the case, and whether this is your first or subsequent offense, are also important factors. For example, if the benefit or gain obtained by the accused is less than $500, he or she can be charged with a fourth degree felony crime. Fourth degree crimes carry possible sentences of up to 18 months in state prison. Additionally, aside from being ordered to pay for the financial losses suffered by the alleged victim, you could be assessed a $10,000 fine that must be paid over time.
The degree of the crime increases to a third degree if you are accused of committing identity theft for a second time or the benefit received is between $500 and $75,000. Charges for a third degree felony also occur if the state alleges that your acts involved the identities of 2-4 people. If convicted of a third degree offense, the court is within its purview to incarcerate you for 3-5 years and to order you to pay $15,000 in fines.

The highest level felony that can be charged for identity theft is a second degree offense. This level of crime is permitted against those accused of wrongfully acquiring $75,000 or more through identity theft or by using the identities of 5 or more victims. A conviction for a second degree crime commands the court to sentence you to 5-10 years in prison. Further, the judge has the assigned power to impose a fine up to $150,000.


The danger of being charged with identity theft is that almost all conduct constituting the crime requires a felony charge. In fact, the only downgrade or disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) available is for those using a Fake ID to purchase or be provided with alcohol. There is no companion offense that can limit the charges to a misdemeanor. Most identity theft crimes are associated with other crimes of theft such as forging documents (uttering forged instruments), theft of servicesprescription fraud and credit card theft. When a person is convicted of more than one offense, they may be sentenced in accordance with the individual charges in their case, sometimes consecutively serving one sentence only to begin the term associated with another.


When you have been accused of identity theft in Weehawken, Secaucus Harrison, West New York, or another town in New Jersey, skilled criminal defense lawyers with experience can help in many ways. Sometimes the actions alleged may not meet the legal definition of identity theft and the indictment should be dismissed. In other cases, the person accused of the crime had no intention of committing identity theft and was acting in good faith on behalf of another. The conduct and your intention must be proven by the state to truly constitute identity theft and obtain a conviction. Depending on the facts and evidence, we can challenge these assertions by way of motions, negotiating, or by pointing out the prosecution’s vulnerabilities at a trial. Having represented clients facing serious criminal charges in Hudson County Superior Court for over a decade, William A. Proetta and our defense team are prepared to go the distance in your case. We can discuss your situation in a free initial consultation and if you’d like to set up an appointment to go over identity theft and any associated charges further, our lawyers can and will do so. Our Jersey City office is centrally located. Simply call (201) 793-8018 to start a dialogue today.