Nick Parsons in Double Jeopardy. Nick Fury in The Winter Soldier. Sherlock Holmes in the Game of Shadows. Faking one’s death is a staple of popular fiction. 

Most of us aren’t ever going to be involved in showdowns with master criminals. Most of us won’t try to frame our lives for our murder.

But plenty of people get overwhelmed by their lives and fantasize about throwing it all away and starting over. Yet attempting to fake your own death can put you in for a world of legal trouble. 

There is no formal charge for “faking your death,” but there are other potential sources of criminal charges.

Identity Theft

It is almost impossible to navigate the modern world without ID. You can’t buy, rent, or even drive a car without ID. You can’t obtain medical care or prescriptions without it. You can’t get a job without it. You can’t open a bank account without it. 

So if you’ve attached a death certificate to your own ID, it stands to reason you’re probably attempting to reconstruct another from a source that doesn’t belong to you. After all, other than a legal name change, which leaves a paper trail through the system, there is no legal way to change your identity. 

When the identity fraud is discovered you could be facing serious criminal charges. 

Life Insurance Fraud

Did you have a life insurance policy? Did your beneficiaries collect after your “death?” Worse, did you take out one on yourself using an alternate identity as the beneficiary? You’ve just committed insurance fraud, and you could face serious criminal charges.

Worse, your beneficiaries could too if the insurance company or the police have reason to suspect they knew and didn’t report you. Rest assured if it’s revealed at any point that you faked your own death then the insurance company will launch a fraud investigation into your loved ones. 

Other Forms of Fraud

Did you take out any student loans? If you fake your own death to get away from student loans, then you might get charged with fraud if you are caught later. You could also be charged with tax evasion

Is there any way to get a fresh start?

Bankruptcy allows you to get a fresh financial start for all but student loans. If you really want to walk out of the rest of your life you can just “ghost” the people in it: change your email, change your phone number, change cities, stay off Facebook. 

Your paper trail and your past mistakes will still follow you everywhere you go, as will your credit report. That’s just the nature of our system. Nevertheless, with work and time you can minimize or eliminate the impact of past mistakes and build a new life for yourself. 

In trouble?

Many people who try to fake their own death do so because they are facing criminal charges. Want a better way?

Reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer and go over your options. 

See also:

How a New York Defense Lawyer Defends Against Identity Theft Charges

How to Protect Yourself From Criminal Charges When You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

What is a Target Letter?