Identity theft is a white-collar crime that involves using another person’s personal identifying information, often to commit fraud. Often – though not always – these crimes involve using the internet and computers to steal identifying information like social security numbers, home addresses, and other personal information.
If you have been accused of identity theft, you may be facing both state and federal charges. In many cases, people accused of identity theft may not be fully aware of what the crime entails. It is important that you understand what identity theft is and what steps to take if you are charged with this crime.
Different Types of Identity Theft
There are several different types of identity theft, including the following:
- Financial – Financial identity theft involves using somebody else’s personal data for financial gain. This is the most common type of identity theft and can include stealing credit card information, social security numbers, or other identifying information for the purpose of gaining access to credit or funds in that person’s name.
- Medical – Medical identity theft involves using another person’s identifying information to obtain health care services in their name. This can include getting drug prescriptions, medical services, or other medical supplies in someone else’s name and/or on someone else’s health insurance.
- Tax – Tax identity theft occurs when someone submits someone else’s personal information to file a fraudulent tax return and claim their tax refund.
- Criminal – Criminal identity theft happens when someone is arrested by law enforcement and provides another person’s name in lieu of their own. This kind of identity theft can also involve using another person’s ID for unpaid parking or speeding tickets.
- Identity cloning - Identity cloning involves impersonating another person for fraudulent purposes. This can include actually living an entire life while assuming the name and identity of another person. The reasons that might motivate this crime can include hiding one’s immigration status, evading punishment for another crime, or hiding from creditors.
Penalties Associated with an Identity Theft Conviction
Identity theft is considered a serious crime in Tennessee. It is punishable as a Class D felony, which can carry 2-12 years in prison and fines of up to $5000. If convicted, you may also have to pay restitution and can be sued in civil court for additional damages.
Review our blog here for information on how a criminal conviction can affect other pending legal matters, including family law issues.
Defending Against Allegations of Identity Theft
In order to successfully prosecute someone for identity theft, the state must prove that the accused individual stole the victim’s identifying information. In some cases, however, a criminal defense attorney may be able to argue their client was granted explicit or implicit permission to use that identifying information.
In other cases, a person accused of identity theft may have taken the victim’s information without proper authorization, but they did not commit any unlawful acts with that information. If no unlawful actions were attempted with the information, possessing it is not in and of itself a crime.
The state must also prove that the person charged with identity theft intended to steal the victim’s information. If intent cannot be proved, then a crime has not been committed.
Finally, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to prove that the evidence in the case was obtained illegally. You may be able to mount a 4th Amendment defense if the evidence against you was obtained without a warrant.
What to Do if You Were Arrested in TN for Identity Theft
If you have been arrested for identity theft in Tennessee, it is imperative that you consult a seasoned criminal defense attorney who is familiar with defending white-collar crimes like identity theft. At Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC, we are dedicated to mounting a robust defense of each of our clients.
Contact us online or call us at (731) 256-0023 to schedule a free consultation.