Identity Theft

Identity Theft

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a form of crime where an individual’s personal information is stolen and used without their consent for fraudulent purposes. The stolen information can include a wide range of sensitive data, such as:

Personal Details – Name, date of birth, address, and social security number.

Financial Information – Credit card numbers, bank account details, and passwords.

Online Credentials – Email and social media account passwords.

Medical Records – Health insurance information and medical history.

Driver’s License and Passport Information – Identity theft crimes can be charged at the state and federal levels. It is also possible to be charged at both state and federal levels for the same crime.

Some Common State Identity Theft Crimes Include:

Financial – This involves stealing someone’s personal information, such as a Social Security number, credit card details, or bank account information, to make unauthorized financial transactions, open new accounts, or take out loans in the victim’s name.

Tax – The thief uses stolen personal information to file fraudulent tax returns in the victim’s name, claiming refunds and potentially causing significant financial and legal issues for the victim.

Medical – In this type of identification theft, the perpetrator uses someone else’s personal information to obtain medical services, and prescription drugs, or file false insurance claims, resulting in potential medical and financial complications for the victim.

Synthetic – The thief creates a new identity by combining real and fake information, making it challenging to trace the crime and often leading to significant financial losses for businesses and individuals.

Criminal – The thief uses another person’s identity when arrested or during interactions with law enforcement, potentially leading to wrongful accusations and legal complications for the victim.

Social Media – This involves stealing someone’s online identity, such as their social media accounts, to impersonate them, spread misinformation, or conduct malicious activities.

Child – Criminals may target children’s personal information, as it can go unnoticed for an extended period. They use the stolen data to open fraudulent accounts, commit financial fraud, or engage in other criminal activities.

Employment – Thieves may use stolen identities to gain employment illegally, which can affect both the victim’s finances and reputation.

Account Takeover – In this type of identity theft, the perpetrator gains unauthorized access to the victim’s online accounts, such as email, social media, or financial accounts, by using stolen login credentials.

Data Breach-Related – Identity thieves take advantage of data breaches in which large volumes of personal information are stolen from companies or organizations. They may use this data to commit various types of identification theft crimes.

State Penalties Can Include:

The penalties for state identity theft crimes can vary depending on the specific laws of each state and the severity of the offense.

Fines – Identity theft offenders may be required to pay fines as a form of punishment and to compensate the victim for any financial losses incurred due to the theft.

Imprisonment – Convicted identity thieves may face a period of incarceration, the length of which depends on the state laws and the extent of the crime committed. In some cases, particularly for more severe offenses or repeat offenders, the sentence could be significant, ranging from several months to several years in prison.

Restitution – Offenders may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, covering the costs incurred in resolving the identity theft, such as legal fees and credit monitoring expenses.

Probation – In some cases, the court may impose probation as an alternative to imprisonment or as a condition of early release. During probation, the offender is required to comply with certain conditions, such as regular check-ins with a probation officer and refrain from engaging in criminal activities.

Community Service – Courts may require identity theft offenders to perform a certain number of community service hours as part of their punishment.

Enhanced Penalties – Some states have specific laws that impose enhanced penalties if the identity theft was committed against vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly or disabled, or if the offense involved a large-scale operation.

Some Common Federal Identity Theft Crimes Include:

Identity Theft – This involves knowingly using someone else’s personal identifying information, such as their name, Social Security number, date of birth, or financial account information, without their permission to commit fraud or other illegal activities.

Aggravated Identity Theft – This offense occurs when someone commits identity theft during and in relation to certain other federal crimes, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, or other serious offenses. The penalty for aggravated identification theft is added to the punishment for the underlying crime.

Identity Theft to Commit Fraud Against the Government – This refers to using stolen identity information to defraud the government, for example, by filing false tax returns, claiming fraudulent government benefits, or committing healthcare fraud.

Identity Theft in Connection with Bankruptcy Fraud – This occurs when someone uses another person’s identity to conceal assets or avoid paying debts during a bankruptcy proceeding.

Identity Theft in Connection with Mail Theft – When stolen personal information, such as credit cards or account details, is obtained through mail theft and then used fraudulently, it can lead to federal identity theft charges.

Identity Theft in Connection with Social Security Fraud – This crime involves using someone’s Social Security number fraudulently to obtain government benefits or commit other financial crimes.

Identity Theft Related to Immigration Violations – In cases where false or stolen personal information is used to aid individuals in immigration violations, it can result in federal identity theft charges.

Identity Theft Related to Counterfeiting and Forgery – Using stolen personal information to create counterfeit documents or forge signatures for illegal purposes falls under this category.

Identity Theft Related to Computer Crimes – When personal information is unlawfully obtained through hacking, phishing, or other cybercrimes, and then used for fraudulent activities, it can lead to federal identity theft charges.

Identity Theft in Connection with Employment Fraud – This occurs when someone uses another person’s identity to gain employment or obtain work-related benefits.
It’s important to note that laws related to identity theft may vary, and state laws may also cover identification theft offenses.

Federal Penalties Can Include:

In the United States, federal law provides penalties for identification theft crimes under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (18 U.S.C. § 1028) and other related statutes.
The penalties for identity theft can vary based on the severity of the crime and the specific laws violated. Generally, the penalties may include:

Imprisonment – Conviction for identity theft can result in significant prison sentences, ranging from a few years to decades, depending on the extent and impact of the crime.

Fines – Individuals convicted of identity theft may face substantial fines, often calculated based on the financial losses suffered by the victims.

Restitution – Courts may order the offender to pay restitution to the victims to compensate them for the financial losses and damages incurred.

Probation – In some cases, the court may impose probation, during which the offender must follow specific terms and conditions.

Forfeiture – Courts may order the forfeiture of assets or property acquired through identity theft or used in the commission of the crime.

Aggravating Factors – Penalties may be increased if the identification theft involves aggravating factors, such as identity theft of vulnerable individuals, repeated offenses, or a large monetary loss.

It is important to note that state laws also play a significant role in prosecuting identification theft crimes, and penalties can vary from state to state.

What Does an Identity Theft Crimes Defense Attorney Do?

The role of an identity theft crimes defense attorney is to provide legal representation and support to the accused throughout the legal process. Here are some of the key tasks and responsibilities they typically undertake:

Case Evaluation – The defense attorney will thoroughly examine the facts of the case, including the evidence and witness statements, to understand the strength of the prosecution’s case against their client.

Legal Strategy – Based on their evaluation, the attorney will develop a defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of the case. This strategy may involve analyzing law enforcement’s conduct and investigation, investigating potential witnesses, or seeking to have certain evidence excluded from the trial.

Negotiations – In some cases, the defense attorney may engage in negotiations with the prosecution to try to reach a plea deal or reduce charges that may be more favorable to their client.

Court Representation – If the case goes to trial, the defense attorney will represent their client in court, presenting arguments, cross-examining witnesses, and working to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

Expert Witnesses – In complex identity theft cases, the defense attorney may call upon expert witnesses to provide specialized insights or opinions that can support the defense’s arguments.

Protecting Rights – Throughout the process, the attorney will ensure that their client’s constitutional rights are protected and that they are treated fairly under the law.

Mitigation – If their client is found guilty or accepts a plea deal, the defense attorney will advocate for the most lenient sentence possible, emphasizing any mitigating factors that could lessen the severity of the punishment.

Appeals – If the case results in an unfavorable outcome, the defense attorney may explore the possibility of filing an appeal on behalf of their client.

It’s important to note that identification theft laws and penalties can vary from one jurisdiction to another, so a competent defense attorney should have a deep understanding of the relevant state and federal laws and court procedures related to identification theft crimes. The ultimate goal of the defense attorney is to protect their client’s rights, build a strong defense, and achieve the best possible outcome given the circumstances of the case.

The lawyers at The Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm have been representing people charged with identity theft crimes in both state and federal court for over three decades. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to provide the best possible defense of these charges.

To schedule a Strategy Session with an experienced identification theft crimes attorney, contact the Attorneys For Freedom today. We can be reached online at AttorneysForFreedom.com or by calling our Arizona office at 480-755-7110 or our Hawai’i office at 808-647-2423.

 

Arizona Office Address:
3185 S. Price Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85248
Phone: 480-755-7110
Hawai’i Office Address:
1003 Bishop Street, Suite 1260 Pauahi Tower
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813
Phone: 808-647-2423
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