It’s easy to get wrongfully accused of identity theft. Just ask the victims of identity theft that got accused of it when they tried to report it.
When that happens, you’ll need an experienced attorney with a solid defense strategy. Since identity theft can be prosecuted at both the state level and the federal level, you’ll also need an attorney who is adept at tackling both types of cases.
There are several defenses that can help.
First, of course, is the pure, actual innocence defense. You didn’t obtain another person’s identity, you didn’t use another person’s identity, and they’ve got the wrong person. In some cases, the identity the prosecution says you stole is your identity, and we can prove it.
Next, we can prove that you may have had the information, but didn’t have any illegal intentions with it.
For example, perhaps your significant other left all their financial information over at your house. You had a breakup.
The significant other may claim you “stole their identity”, but in reality, all that information is just sitting at your house. Maybe you didn’t even know it was there, and even if you did, you weren’t going to go and open up a bunch of credit card accounts with it.
Another example may be a person who got their neighbor’s mail. You forgot to return it, but you didn’t do anything with the information, nor did they plan to.
“Authorization” is another fine defense. People often give each other permission to use each other’s identity. For example, if a friend hands you a credit card to complete an Amazon order then you haven’t committed identity theft. They literally gave you permission. Of course, borrowing credit cards is dangerous because it can put you in a “your word against theirs” situation, but taking that risk doesn’t make you a criminal.
Next, we can attack the evidence itself. The prosecution has to have hard evidence to prove any identity theft claim.
If they don’t, we may even be able to keep the case from going to trial. We can try to convince the prosecutor to drop the case, or we can use motions to try to keep what little evidence there is out of court. Win enough motions, and the prosecution ceases to have a case at all.
The way that law enforcement obtained evidence against you is also subject to attack by a skilled defense attorney. Despite the Constitution, it’s not uncommon for law enforcement to conduct unlawful searches and seizures, particularly of electronic devices and records they have no right to access. A good defense attorney should be able to get all of that evidence thrown out as well. It’s “fruit of the poisoned tree.”
The right strategy for you will depend on the facts of your specific case. There may also be cases where acquittal is unlikely but where a plea bargain for a reduced sentence, or a deferred prosecution agreement is possible.
If you’re in trouble, you don’t have to make guesses about which defense will work for you. Just reach out to Koch Law to schedule a consultation. We’ll look at the facts of your case together, get your questions answered, and discuss next steps.