Identity Theft Charges
The issue of identity theft has become a concern for anyone who regularly engages in activities such as using a credit card, whether online or in a store, applying for credit, providing a lot of personal information, or even throwing out documents with identifying details. In response to this, there are state and federal prosecutions of individuals accused of identity theft on a regular basis. Charges for identity theft are at an all-time high, and the punishments are getting more severe than in the past.
What is Identity Theft?
There are many different types of behavior that may form the basis for a charge of identity theft, but some of the more common activities are:
- Someone working for a bank or business uses his position to gather information from customers in order to benefit financially;
- A person drops a wallet or credit card and the person who finds it uses the card or cards to make purchases;
- A person uses false pretenses to gather personal information from a person, such as posing as a mortgage company that can offer lower financing rates, and then uses that information to create new accounts in the name of the victim, but of which the victim is not aware. The bills in this type of case are sent to a false address, so the victim does not learn about the fraud until there are serious financial ramifications;
- A person hacks into the computer of an individual in order to gather information that can be used to open accounts and make purchases; and
- People go through trash in order to find financial statements, credit card bills, and other documents containing personal information that can be used to achieve financial gain.
How is Identity Theft Prosecuted?
Under New York law, there is a provision in the New York Penal Code, section 190, that addresses the crime of identity theft and state prosecutors have made use of this law to pursue many people and even groups of individuals involved in identity theft on a wide-scale basis. Not to be outdone, the federal government also has passed a law that codifies the crime of identity theft. In 1998, the United States Congress passed The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1028, which makes it a federal crime to knowingly use or transfer a means of identification of a person, without legal authorization, intending to commit, or to aid or abet in the commission of, any unlawful activity. The unlawful act may include any violation of federal law or any act that is chargeable as a felony under state law.
Penalties for Identity Theft
A person who is being charged with identity theft faces serious penalties, including:
- Prison time – The intense focus on this type of crime means that prosecutors are trying to make a point with harsh prison terms and the judges, at both the state and federal level, seem to be in agreement. A person convicted of identity theft may face years in prison;
- Legal fines – In addition to prison time, a person convicted of identity theft may be forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal penalties; and
- Restitution – The payment of legal fees is not the only financial impact of identity theft charges, with many of the accused facing the risk of restitution to the victims of the identity theft. Restitution is different than the legal fines as it is intended to make the victim whole rather than penalize the defendant.
Greco Neyland, PC Advocates Aggressively for Those Charged with Identity Theft
Any criminal charges involve a risk to the person being accused, but when the alleged crime is an area of focus for state or federal prosecutors, it may be far more difficult for a person to be treated fairly. At Greco Neyland, PC, we understand what motivates prosecutors and are prepared to do everything possible to ensure that our clients are not railroaded for a political agenda. We will work with you to develop an effective legal strategy and then we will go to battle, refusing to permit the prosecutor to intimidate you or try to force you to accept an unfair plea deal. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at (212) 951-1300.
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