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False Advertising

False advertising is a class A misdemeanor under New York law. If convicted of a class A misdemeanor, sentencing could result in a maximum penalty of either 1 year in jail or up to 3 years of probation. Additionally, individuals can be fined up to $1,000 or an amount of twice the individual’s gain from the crime committed.

If you are facing charges for a NY false advertising offense, retain a New York criminal defense attorney. At Tilem & Associates where our team of skilled attorneys will fight zealously to win your case.

The way in which goods and services are exchanged has increasingly changed with the development of new technologies. Today, New Yorkers can buy and sell realty and personal property online with the click of a button in addition to manually posting notices on bulletin boards in public forums and placing advertisements in periodicals. These online forums make the consumption of property, goods, and services more accessible. This accordingly increases a person’s risk of encountering false advertisements. The growing popularity of online advertisements, however, does not extinguish the opportunity of encountering false advertising in print sources. A flier or newspaper clipping advertising a product can employ the same deceptive tactics used online.

In New York State, under NY Penal §190.20, a person is guilty of false advertising when they purposefully mean to push for the sale of, or encourage the consumption of property or a service and in doing so the advertiser either makes a false or misleading statement, or causes such a false statement to be made. A person can additionally be found guilty of false advertising under the New York law when they publish any kind of advertisement that violates the regulations under chapter 3 of the “Truth in Lending Act” (TLA). The TLA is a federal law enacted to protect consumers. Chapter 3 enumerates the necessary information that needs to be included in catalogs and multipage advertisements, as well as the appropriate ways to advertise credit. A violation of the TLA, for example, would be advertising that a necessary down payment is needed to directly extend consumer credit, when down payments are not customary.

NY Penal Law §190.20 is also often read in conjunction with §396 of the General Business Law, because they both aim to protect consumers from being “baited” to purchase products other than the ones advertised to them. §396 of the General Business Law states that no one shall advertise merchandise for sale with the intent not to sell the merchandise at the advertised price. An instance that would violate this law would be someone advertising a bicycle for sale at a low price, and then demanding a higher payment upon consumer inquiry. General Business Law §396 applies to all entities that broadcast, publish, or prints such advertisements.

For example, say someone posts an online advertisement for the sale of an apartment at a low price to draw in buyers. Once prospective buyers come to view the apartment, the seller would purposefully persuade them that the advertised apartment was defective or of low quality, and then offer a different, “higher-quality” unit, at a much higher price. This “bait and switch” form of advertising is a classic example of the type of advertising that §190.20 would classify as false or misleading.

If you are facing charges for a NY false advertising offense, seek the help of one of our experienced and knowledgeable New York criminal defense lawyers. At Tilem & Associates our team of New York criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience and will work zealously to defend your false advertising case.

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