Identity Theft Defense Attorney in Michigan
If you are accused of Identity Theft, you will need a top-rated, zealous criminal defense attorney to have any hope of fending off law enforcement and possibly avoiding a conviction and jail.
As anyone who has any sense of what is going on in the news these days is aware, identity theft is a huge problem. Perpetrators are getting more technologically advanced and aggressive seemingly with each passing day. Because of the attention given to these cases in the media, laws prohibiting and punishing identity theft are very aggressive and provide for severe penalties. Unfortunately, prosecutors in these cases can be overzealous and may even try to get a conviction when a defendant made an innocent mistake.
What exactly is Identity Theft?
In a nutshell, identity theft is obtaining private, personal information of another person, and using the information to commit a crime, usually some sort of theft. The specific elements of the law are as follows:
A person commits identity theft is he or she intends to defraud another person by using another person’s personal identifying information. This can happen when someone attempts to obtain credit, goods, services, money, property, a vital record, a confidential telephone record, medical records or information, or employment, or if he or she commits any other unlawful act.
The crime of identity theft also would include when a person allegedly conceals, withholds, or misrepresents someone’s identity.
There are several defenses to identity theft that can be used in court. Some defenses include:
- consent by the person whose personal information was used,
- the person using the personal information paid to be able to use the information of another,
- the use of the information was for lawful enforcement of the user’s legal rights, or
- the use was authorized by law or court order.
The identity theft laws are regularly expanded. Although not originally included in the identity theft statute, it is now illegal for a person to falsely create an email claiming to be a business or create a web page claiming to be a business and then attempt to solicit the personal information of a user of the internet with the intent to commit identity theft or another crime. The exception to these rules is that these actions may be done with the consent of the business as long as the purpose is not unlawful. A person also may not file a false police report of identity theft.
Federal Identity Theft Crimes
The federal statute making identity theft illegal under federal law is The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. Under this act, it is unlawful to knowingly transfer or use, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.
A federal conviction for identity theft carries a maximum possible sentence of 15 years imprisonment, years of supervised release, and substantial fines.
Should I hire a lawyer if I’m charged with identity theft?
Once you see the penalties, it will be obvious that you absolutely need a top-rated criminal defense lawyer every step of the way. For example, in state court, the penalties are severe.
- A first violation carries a 5-year prison sentence, up to 5 years of probation, and up to a $25,000.00 fine, or both.
- A second violation carries a 10-year prison sentence, up to 5 years of probation, and up to a $50,000.00 fine, or both.
- A third or more violation carries a 15-year penalty and up to a $75,000.00 fine, or both. Although probation can be ordered by the judge, prison sentences are routinely given for individuals convicted of repeat offenses.
These penalties are in addition to penalties for any other crimes committed with unlawfully obtained personal information. Importantly, if convicted of identity theft and another crime, the prison sentences may be consecutive sentences, meaning you serve one sentence and then another, back to back. Usually, if a person commits several crimes in one spree, all sentences will be served at the same time (concurrently). Of course, if the theft of any value is proven, restitution will be a part of the sentence.
Top-Rated Criminal Defense Attorneys for Identity Theft
The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges, including identity theft, in federal court and in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We know how to defend an Identity Theft charge. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.