Identity theft or identity fraud involves someone pretending to be someone else by assuming their identity, usually to gain access to credit or other resources, obtain a loan or commit fraud. It is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the country, and can take on a variety of forms.
Conviction of identity theft has serious consequences. At Dhar Law, LLP, in Charlestown, our committed attorneys have years of experience representing clients in the full scope of criminal matters, government and other disciplinary hearings, commercial business litigation and more.
How Identity Theft Occurs
People gain access to personal identifying information, such as a Social Security number or credit card account, in a variety of ways, from simple rummaging through the trash, to sophisticated computer hacking schemes.
Identity fraud can be a state and a federal crime. A number of federal agencies may be involved in investigating and prosecuting identity theft. These include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Secret Service and even the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Identity theft can be prosecuted under a number of statutes, including the Identity Theft Assumption Deterrence Act.
The Penalties Are Severe
Under federal law, individuals convicted of forgery, using a fake ID or other forms of identity theft can face 15 years or more in prison. Fines may also be assessed. Other crimes related to the fraud can result in further criminal proceedings and additional penalties. There are specific provisions in the law for offenses related to passports, and for aggravated identity theft.
A number of states have specific laws to address identity theft, including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state provides for up to 36 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. A defendant may also be forced to pay costs to the victim.
Defending Charges Of Identity Theft
If you become the target of an investigation, or upon receiving a subpoena, you may not know how to respond. Once you become aware of an investigation, legal counsel can help to make the difficult decisions of what the next step should be. The question of cooperation with the government is a critical decision, which could lead to resolution or could expose the individual to criminal and civil liability.
Defenses can include arguing lack of the intent to defraud or use someone's identity without their permission. A variety of other legal defenses may be appropriate depending upon the unique circumstances of the case.
Put An Experienced Criminal Defense Team In Your Corner
With a number of laws and agencies involved in identity theft and identity fraud, issues can be complicated. If you face charges or an investigation, or have any questions about identity theft, call 617-391-0592 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation. You will work with an experienced attorney who is focused in this practice area.