What are identity theft charges in Lansing, MI?
As technology and business continue to merge, identity theft continues to be a serious issue throughout Michigan and the United States. It’s becoming commonplace to hear friends, family, and neighbors have their confidential information stolen by online scammers and hackers. Unfortunately, in Michigan, it’s more than just hacking that falls under the umbrella of criminal identity theft charges, and the consequences of committing these crimes are severe.
What is identity theft?
Also known as identity fraud, identity theft involves a person or group using someone else’s personal information to reap financial gain. The details that are typically stolen from a victim include:
- Social security number
- Credit card details
- Bank account information
- Login data
- Credit history
Numerous states have created their own laws to combat this form of fraud, and Michigan passed its own Identity Theft Protection Act. According to this legislation, anyone who uses someone else’s data to commit a crime is subject to prosecution. Ways that stolen information gets used include:
- Fraudulently withdrawing money from someone’s bank account
- Obtaining a credit card
- Stealing sensitive information like medical records
- Buying merchandise and services with stolen cash and/or credit
- Using someone else’s data to get hired
- Purchasing property
- Getting confidential data, including phone and internet records
How Michigan is combating identity theft
State law also makes it illegal to steal someone’s personal data to sell it to others who commit illicit acts like those mentioned above. It’s also illegal for you to gain access to someone else’s personal information by:
- Email phishing, which uses emails sent to victims under false pretenses so that they will reveal personal information
- Fake web pages posing as a business product or service
- Using malicious software to infiltrate and/or take control of someone’s computer network
When faced with identity theft charges, keep in mind that you can commit this crime without using a computer. It’s not uncommon for identity thieves to get their victim’s information through one of the below techniques:
- Stealing mail
- Taking documents with sensitive information out of the trash
- Conducting phone scams posing as a legitimate business or government agency
- Stealing someone’s purse or wallet
- Using special devices at an ATM or credit card payment application to steal credit card information
How Lansing criminal court punishes identity theft
Criminal courts in Michigan treat Identity theft as a felony. It’s not uncommon for related charges to be filed against you, too. This is usually dependent upon how you used the stolen personal information, or a computer was used to commit your offenses.
By itself, identity theft carries severe punishments, including:
- $25,000 in fines and up to five years in prison for first-time offenders
- Second-time offenders may receive up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000
- Third or later offenses can receive a maximum of 15 years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines
Should you be convicted, you may also be subject to civil lawsuits filed by the victims of your crime. Restitution will also be part of your criminal sentencing to replace the funds you’re accused of taking from them.
How you can defend against identity theft charges in Lansing, MI
It’s not uncommon for defendants of identity theft charges to have a good reason for possessing another person’s private financial details, like credit card information. For example, maybe you are a local vendor providing services to a business, and your accuser signed a contract where you can automatically charge their credit card details each month. Or, your elderly parents permitted you to withdraw money from their account, but your other siblings don’t know this.
Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with state law regarding identity theft can prove invaluable in these situations. This type of crime usually involves complex technologies where the prosecution may not be able to find the required evidence to convict you. Working with a lawyer that knows what data to look for can bring to light an explanation or defense for your actions.
Speak with a knowledgeable Lansing criminal defense attorney
If you or someone you know is charged with identity theft, speak with the criminal defense team of Coontz Law right away. Without proper analysis of the evidence against you, including the technology providing this information, prosecutors might successfully convict you of a felony crime.
We have the skill, passion, and know-how to defend these types of cases throughout Lansing. Trust us to protect you against these serious charges vigorously. Contact ouroffice today and set up a consultation to discuss your legal situation.