Identity Theft is typically thought of in terms of a thief using your social security number to obtain credit cards and run up bills in your name. But what if someone uses your stolen identity to commit a criminal offense or a crime? In this all to common scenario a friend, relative, or complete stranger gives your name to the police when they are arrested and may even have false identification documents to pass themselves off as you. They then either don’t show up for court and a warrant is issued for your arrest, or they actually go to court, pass themselves off as you and plead guilty to a criminal offense. You may only become aware of it years later when a new employer runs a background check on you and up it comes.
Fortunately, New Jersey Expungement Law provides protection for a victim of identity theft in N.J.S.C. 2C:52-32.1. If a person reasonably believes that he or she is the victim of identity theft under 2C:21-1, 2C:21-2.1, 2C:17.2, or 2C:21-17.3, he or she may petition the court in which the charge is pending or where the conviction was entered for a judicial termination of factual innocence. The three (3) circumstances under which you can do this are:
- The perpetrator of identity theft was arrested for, cited for, or convicted of a crime, offense, or violation of the law under the victim’s identity;
- A complaint for a crime, offense, or violation has been filed against the perpetrator in the victim’s name; or
- The victim’s identity has been mistakenly associated with a record of conviction.
In order for the Court to make a determination, which can be done with or without a hearing, the victim provides declarations, affidavits, police reports, or other evidence of the identity theft to be reviewed by the Court. Once the Court determines that the victim of the identity theft’s petition is meritorious and there is no reasonable cause to believe the victim committed the crime, offense, or violation, the Court will enter an order. That order will remove the victim’s name and personal identifying information from any records of all involved agencies. Further, that information when expunged from the record will be labelled to show that the data was sealed because of identity theft.
Having an expungement order entered because of identity theft does not affect your eligibility in any way to apply for expungements on other criminal offenses that were committed by you.
If you are a victim of identity theft and someone used your identity to commit a crime or other criminal offense, you are entitled to relief. If you have any questions concerning your eligibility, please contact one of our attorneys at (732) 741-4448.