Monday, September 19, 2011

Giving a False Statement to Law Enforcement and Right to Remain Silent.

Similar to federal law it is unlawful for anyone to give a false statement to a State law enforcement officer or a civil State investigator assigned to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Office, with the purpose of hindering the detention, apprehension, investigation, prosecution, conviction or punishment of another, or him or herself, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3a(7) and N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3b.(4).  If the false relates to an investigation of a second degree crime or greater, the offender is in violation of a third-degree crime (3-5 years), if the statement relates to an investigation of a third-degree crime the offender is subject to penalties of a fourth-degree crime (18 months).  Otherwise, if the statement relates to a fourth-degree offense or traffic or motor vehicle summons it is a disorderly person’s offense.

Therefore, knowing this, it is absolutely essential that anyone being questioned by law enforcement regarding an investigation into possible criminal charges invoke their right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Because anything that they might say which later turns out to be false or misleading, even if innocently made, can result in possible criminal charges which are separate and apart from the crimes being investigated.

Similarly, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4(b) provides that the making of a false or misleading financial statement is a crime of the third degree.

Therefore, again, it is imperative that anyone applying for al loan, credit card, car loan or mortgage take extreme care in not overstating ones income.

On September 19, 2011 Elizabeth Board of Education employees Maria L. Munn, Angela Lucio and Peter W. Abitanto were arrested by the New Jersey State Police on charges made by the New Jersey Attorney General for third degree theft by deception and third degree tampering of public records or information.

The State alleges that these individuals attempted to defraud the federally subsidized school lunch program designated for low income children. It appears that the State Attorney General is basing one of the charges on a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4(b) (making of a false or misleading financial statement), in connection with the Elizabeth School lunch program.  The second charge is theft by deception which is a second degree crime if the amount is over $75,000.00.  Because the amount alleged by the State is under $75,000.00, but over $500.00, the crime is a third degree charge.

Before you are questioned by law enforcement it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.    

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Elizabeth, New Jersey

Dated: September 19, 2011

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