Usury is an old word that refers to lending money at exorbitant rates.
Because the meaning of the word is so precise, it fits nicely into statutes like New Jersey’s N.J.S.A. 2C:21-19(a), Criminal Usury.
Under this law, it’s a crime in New Jersey to lend money or accept payment on a loan at rates that exceed the maximum permitted by law, which is set at 30% annually.
Loans to businesses are exempted, and the rate set in the statute for those types of loans is 50% annually.
Penalties for Criminal Usury under 2C:21-19(a) are graded according to a few factors.
At the lowest level, simply making a loan or receiving payment on a loan in excess of the maximum permitted rate is a disorderly persons offense, and carries a six month maximum sentence.
If you make a loan in excess of $1,000 that exceeds the maximum permitted rate but does not exceed 50%, you can be found guilty of a crime of the third degree, which carries a three to five year prison sentence and fines of up to $15,000.
Making loans whose interest rate exceeds 50% annually to any person is a crime of the second degree in New Jersey, and carries a five to 10 year prison sentence and fines up to $150,000 for conviction.
Clearly, these are extremely serious charges that can change your life in very negative ways.
If you’ve been charged with violations of 2C:21-19(a), call Matt Reisig today at 732-385-3339 for a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.