“A good lawyer can definitely beat a fraud charge in NJ, but this obviously revolves around the circumstances of your case. The best thing you can do is read this guide to New Jersey fraud charges, which will answer all of your questions.”
If you’ve been arrested in NJ for a Fraud charge, you could be facing jail-time, a criminal record, and intense fines. That said, fraud isn’t an easy charge to prove against you, and an aggressive criminal defense attorney can drastically improve your chances of winning your case.
The Tormey Firm is a composed of a team of criminal defense attorneys and current NJ prosecutors, fighting on your behalf. We represent clients facing state and federal charges for fraud, identity theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, and other white collars crimes throughout New Jersey. Please feel free to call us for a free consultation about your case, and read this page for more information about your charge. You can also check out our Top 5 Ways To Beat A Criminal Charge for more information about how we can challenge any criminal case in New Jersey.
What is Fraud?
In a world where people are constantly trying to make a profit, there will always exist Fraud. For the most part, fraud is dishonesty for the sake of gaining some type of advantage. That said, not all dishonesty is fraud, so the definition of the word becomes considerably more complicated.
Fraud usually exists in business interactions of some sort, most times when one party is selling something to another party. This of course gives the “seller” the opportunity to be dishonest in hopes of making a profit. Interestingly enough, it’s difficult to prove that someone has been intentionally dishonest.
What happens if the seller is accidentally dishonest? For example, if I am selling my house, and I tell the guy buying my house that the foundation is NOT cracked (because that’s what I believe) but it turns out to be cracked like the Liberty Bell, am I guilty of fraud? Of course not….
There are five typical stipulations that need to be present for fraud to exist:
1. Misrepresentation of material fact
This simply means that some fact presented in the dealings is untrue. This would be my statement that “the foundation is not cracked” when it is, in fact, cracked.
2. Knowledge of the part of the defendant that the statement was untrue
I have to know that there was a problem with my home before I made the false statement. If I had a real estate inspector come to my home the day before I started telling prospective buyers that the place is perfectly fine, I am knowingly deceiving them.
3. Intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim
This just means that I deceived the guy buying my house and I meant to do it. Even worse, just to make this hypothetical circumstance more sinister, I’m not sorry. However, all that really matters is that I intended to deceive the guy.
4. Justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on my statement
This is where we might find some grey area in my current example. The victim in the case needs to have good reason to rely on my statement. In the case of a cracked foundation, this might be debatable. I might tell the homebuyer that the foundation is cracked, but relying on that statement might not be justified. A judge could certainly determine that it’s the homebuyer’s duty to hire an inspector and get the foundation examined him or herself.
Now, if I show the buyer false documents that support the structural integrity of the house, I am more likely to be found guilty of fraud. The question with this stipulation becomes, “Is the victim justified in relying on my statement?
5. There needs to be injury to the victim as a result
The victim has to actually lose something in order for fraud to be present. In this case, the homebuyer could lose multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars by virtue of the value of their real estate. If they buy a home thinking that it’s worth $500K and it turns out to be worth $100K, I would say it’s a pretty clear injury.
After reading this, you can probably tell that fraud is not cut and dry. It’s not often easy to prove that someone knew his or her statement to be deceptive, and sometimes it doesn’t even matter.
Continuing with real estate as an example, if a real estate agent tells a buyer that a home is located in a low-crime area when it’s in fact located in a high-crime area, it could be fraud… even if the agent doesn’t know his or her statement to be false. In such a situation, it’s the real estate agent’s DUTY to know the level of crime in the neighborhood, so denying this knowledge wouldn’t be an acceptable defense.
I’m a lawyer, not a real-estate agent or a home inspector. For all intents and purposes, unless I hired someone to inspect my house, I would have no idea that the foundation was cracked. Even if I had known, it would be difficult to prove. However, if I was an auto-mechanic and I was selling someone a car with a bad motor, the judge might not buy my story. I’m much more likely to have plausible deniability as a lawyer selling a crappy car.
If you stick by the five guidelines listed when assessing a case of fraud, you will have a pretty good idea if it exists… regardless of whether you are the victim or defendant. If one or two of the stipulations aren’t clear in your case, then you can begin to figure out where the majority of the legal argument is going to take place. No matter what the circumstance, if you want to stay out of trouble, honesty is always the best policy.
Need a Lawyer for Fraud Charges in NJ
If you have been accused of fraud in New Jersey, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm can help. Our firm is absolutely dedicated to providing the best criminal defense for your legal issues, and we are available for free consultations regarding your criminal matter. Whether you have been charged with bank fraud, mail fraud, insurance fraud, check fraud, prescription fraud, or another offense, we know how to defend someone in your situation. We are happy to talk to you about the exact strategies that we will use to fight your case. Feel free to call us any time: (201) 556-1571. Consultations are free and confidential.