Follow These Steps After Getting Identity Theft Charges
Did you know that even basic identity theft charges can lead to a 15-year prison sentence if a conviction is obtained? Identity theft charges are very serious, so you need to respond appropriately. Here are some tips for how you should handle this situation.
Find a Good Criminal Defense Attorney
Hopefully, this is actually a step you have already taken. As soon as you are arrested for identity theft, it is a good idea to stay quiet and get help from a lawyer. They can explain how the whole process works and help you avoid saying anything accidentally that might be incriminating. However, many people are surprised to be arrested for identity theft, so they might not have a lawyer ready as soon as the police show up.
If this happens, you might get a public defender assigned to your case. While public defenders do try to be helpful, they are often overworked and underpaid. You will get better care from a private attorney because they have more resources to help with your case. Furthermore, hiring your own attorney helps you find someone whose credentials and personality suit your needs. Since identity theft is a felony, it is important to have the best legal representation possible.
Cooperate With Court Dates and Other Pre-Trial Requirements
Having a good lawyer can help you a lot with this step, but you still need to try to stay on top of things. Trying to run from the police, skip court dates, or leave the state with pending charges is a bad idea. Anything that makes you look uncooperative can also make you look more guilty of identity theft.
While waiting for your trial, you need to be as responsible and accessible as possible. Check your mail each day, let the court clerk know if you change your address, and make sure you are available for depositions and other important tasks. If you have doubts about anything, check with your Morristown criminal defense lawyer. They can make sure that harmless tasks like getting rid of an old laptop do not make it seem like you are destroying evidence or doing anything else suspicious. Your identity theft lawyer can also help you make sure you are fulfilling all conditions of your bail. Being as law-abiding as possible in the days leading up to your trial can help your case immensely.
Explore Possible Identity Theft Defenses
As soon as you start working with your lawyer, they will begin preparing a defense strategy for you. This involves going over your situation and seeing if there are any factors that would keep your actions from meeting the legal definition of identity theft. Depending on what happened, you may want to use one or more of the following defenses.
The first defense is just that you were falsely accused. For example, you might state that you had nothing to do with the person’s identity being stolen, and someone else must be responsible. This defense works best in cases with little evidence against you. Remember that the court can only convict you if there is enough evidence to show you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, sometimes arguing a false accusation can be easier said than done, especially if you do not have alibis or other concrete proof you could not have committed the crime.
Another option for defense against identity theft is stating that you did not intend to commit identity theft. For identity theft to be a crime, you had to commit the behaviors for the express purpose of defrauding others. So if you did technically steal your neighbor’s private bank information but only did so because you opened their mail by accident and did not hack their account with this information, then your actions would not meet the legal definition of identity theft.
In some cases, people who have been charged with identity theft can defend themselves by claiming they were allowed to use someone else’s private information. Consider a case where your mother gives you her Social Security number and asks you to help her sign up for benefits. This would not count as identity theft because you had permission to act on your mother’s behalf. Using this defense can be very effective, but it might be hard to prove you had consent if the supposed victim insists they did not give you permission.
Another option is claiming that the case against you is invalid because there were legal irregularities in how it was carried out. Things like arresting you without cause, searching your computer without a warrant, or other similar types of misconduct can get your whole case thrown out. This is the type of defense where a lawyer’s specialized knowledge of the legal system can really be useful.
Work to Gather Evidence for Your Criminal Case
While waiting for your trial, your identity theft defense team will spend much of their time gathering evidence. This helps them prepare your case and figure out how to defend you appropriately. Of course, the police and prosecution will also be gathering evidence.
This is where your legal team steps in to help. They specifically look for things to help your case. Your defense team can help you formally request things like security camera footage that could help you prove your case. They can also recommend forensic financial experts who can go over your case and provide expert testimony for you. If any depositions, or formal interviews under oath, are required, your legal team will also assist you with conducting these sessions.
Know What to Expect at Your Trial
By the time of your court date, your Morristown criminal defense lawyer will have put together an extensive defense on your behalf. Most of the hard work is out of the way for you, but you can still take a few steps to help get the best possible outcome. To prepare for your trial, it is helpful to get an idea of what to expect.
Identity theft trials will involve you sitting in court while a jury hears evidence for and against you. For most of the trial, your job will be to dress appropriately and sit respectfully. Outbursts, attempts to attack witnesses, or behavior that seems oddly smug or gleeful may make it harder for your lawyer to present your case. In your trial, there is a chance you will be called to testify. Your lawyer should work with you ahead of time to help you prepare appropriate responses for possible questions. By respecting the legal process and following wise legal counsel, you may be able to prove your innocence or get a less severe punishment.
Ultimately, the right defense team makes a huge difference to your outcome. After being charged with identity theft, a good lawyer can help you prepare a smart defense and appropriately follow all necessary legal guidelines. At the Law Firm of Gregg Wisotsky, our team works hard to provide the best possible care for those facing criminal charges. We provide assistance throughout much of New Jersey, including Hackensack, Newark, and Jersey City. Learn more about our services by giving us a call at 973-898-0161 or by filling out our online contact form.