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What You Need to Know if You’ve Been Charged with Identity Theft

It can be overwhelming and scary to face any type of criminal charges, yet knowledge can bring some peace of mind, so here’s what you need to know if you’ve been charged with identity theft.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal information without their consent. This can include information such as their name, Social Security number, credit card details, etc.

The perpetrator may then use this information for financial gain or to commit fraud. And this often causes significant harm to the victim’s finances and reputation.

What’s Involved in an Identity Theft Charges

In identity theft cases, the prosecution alleges that the defendant unlawfully acquired or used someone else’s personal information for fraudulent purposes.

Identity theft is considered a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the charge and potential penalties depend on factors such as the extent of the fraud, the amount of money involved, and any prior criminal history.

Typical Timeline of Legal Proceedings When You’ve Been Charged with Identity Theft

Here’s what you can expect from the legal proceedings surrounding charges of identity theft:

  1. Arrest and Booking. The process begins with the defendant’s arrest and booking, during which personal information is recorded and fingerprints are taken.
  2. Arraignment. The defendant appears before a judge to be formally charged with identity theft. They enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  3. Pretrial Proceedings. Discovery takes place, where the defense and prosecution exchange evidence. Motions may be filed by the defense to suppress evidence or dismiss the case.
  4. Trial. If the case proceeds to trial, the prosecution presents evidence, and the defense has the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. The jury deliberates to reach a verdict, or the judge issues a verdict in a bench trial.
  5. Sentencing. If convicted, the defendant is sentenced by the judge. Penalties for identity theft may include imprisonment, fines, restitution to the victims, and probation.

Legal Defenses to Fight Charges of Identity Theft

Just as with charges of any crime, you are have the right to an attorney if you’ve been charged with identity theft. And there are possible legal defenses your attorney will likely consider as they fight to get you the best outcome.

For example, here are some of the legal defenses for identity theft:

  • Lack of Intent. The defendant may argue that they did not intend to commit identity theft and were unaware that the personal information was obtained unlawfully.
  • Mistaken Identity. If there is evidence suggesting that someone else committed the identity theft, the defense may use mistaken identity as a defense. Perhaps you look like or drive a similar car as the person who actually committed the identity theft. Or maybe you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Insufficient Evidence. Challenging the prosecution’s evidence and demonstrating that there is insufficient proof to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can be a viable defense strategy for identity theft, as it is with any type of crime.

Your defense attorney will be able to advise you on what legal defenses apply to your specific case.

Benefits of Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney

Here are some of the reasons you need a criminal defense attorney on your side if charged with identity theft:

  • Expertise and Experience. A criminal defense attorney specializing in identity theft cases brings extensive experience and knowledge of the law to the table, ensuring a robust defense strategy tailored to the defendant’s specific circumstances.
  • Personalized Attention. Unlike public defenders who may be handling multiple cases simultaneously, a private criminal defense attorney can provide individualized attention and devote more time to building a strong defense.
  • Access to Resources. Private defense firms have access to resources such as forensic experts, investigators, and expert witnesses, which can be instrumental in challenging the prosecution’s case.
  • Navigating Complex Legal Processes. Identity theft cases involve intricate legal procedures and technicalities. A skilled defense attorney can navigate these complexities effectively, advocating for the defendant’s rights and ensuring a fair trial.

Consult with an Experienced Identity Theft Defense Attorney Right Away

Facing identity theft charges can have serious consequences for your future. Therefore, if you or someone you know has been charged with identity theft, it’s essential to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney like Mark Broughton.

So, if you’ve been arrested or charged with identity theft, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with Fresno Criminal Defense Lawyer Mark Broughton.

Mark Broughton sees every individual’s situation with compassion and empathy. He believes that everybody has the right to a fair trial and is innocent until proven guilty. He has more than 40 years of experience, and he will fight to get you the best outcome in your case, just as he has for so many other clients over his decades of service to the Fresno community.

Call 559-691-6222 or click here to use our convenient online form to get legal help today.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.