Baltimore City Federal Identity Theft Lawyer
Bowing to public pressure after several high profile cases in the 1990’s, the federal government passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in the fall of 1998. Prior to the passage of this act, identity theft crimes were prosecuted under an old 19th century offense for False Personification. After the passage of the Act, identity theft officially became a federal crime, carrying with it penalties that some believe are too harsh for a non-violent crime. Today, many people are prosecuted under the Identity Theft Act. If you are one of them, a Baltimore City federal identity theft lawyer can provide you with legal representation to help you with your case.
Federal Identity Theft Laws
18 United States Code Section 1028 defines the behaviors that can result in federal criminal charges for identity theft. You can be charged under this statute for knowingly:
- Transferring any type of identifying document that you know is stolen or that you do not have the legal authority to transfer.
- Being in unlawful possession of five or more identification documents with the intent to use or transfer those documents illegally.
- Possessing, using, or transferring any kind of false identification document (or ID you don’t have legal authority to have) with the intent to defraud the United States or with the intent to aid or abet unlawful activities.
- Transferring or possessing an implement or authentication feature knowing that it will be used to create a fake ID.
- Unlawfully possessing an identification document that appears to be produced by the U.S. or by a sponsoring entity of an event of national significance.
- Trafficking in false authentication features to be used in the creation of false identifications.
Essentially, this means it is a crime to steal someone’s identifying information; to unlawfully possess someone else’s information for an improper purpose; to unlawfully use someone’s information; or to sell, possess, transfer, or use authentication documents or implements in order to create fake IDs.
Penalties in Baltimore City for Federal Identity Theft
You may be charged under federal or state law for alleged identity theft crimes committed in the city of Baltimore. If you are charged under U.S. Code Section 1028, potential penalties may include:
- Up to 20 years incarceration if any identity theft offense was committed to facilitate a drug crime, or if the identity theft occurred in connection with violence.
- Up to 15 years incarceration if you produce or transfer identification documents or false IDs like birth certificates, driver’s licenses, or other U.S. government issued IDs.
- Up to 15 years incarceration if you produce or transfer more than five identification documents.
- Up to 15 years incarceration for intentionally and unlawfully using a false ID or someone else’s ID to commit a violation of state or federal law provided that you obtain any combination of items valued at $1,000 or more over a one-year period.
- Up to five years of incarceration if you transfer other types of identification documents that do not appear to have come from the U.S. government.
U.S. Code Section 1028(A) also defines the offense of aggravated identity theft. If any type of identity theft occurred in connection with a terrorism offense, this Code Section imposes an additional five years imprisonment. If the identity theft occurred during to facilitate certain types of felonies like mail, bank, or wire fraud, or certain immigration violations, this Code Section imposes an additional two years imprisonment.
Federal Identity Theft Defenses
Federal identity theft covers a lot of different activity, and so a defense strategy in your case will be tailored to the specific facts and allegations in your case. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a Baltimore City federal identity theft lawyer may use one of the following defenses:
- Consent / Authority: Many instances of identity theft allegations require the use of personal information without consent or lawful authority. This means that if your defense attorney can demonstrate that you had consent or lawful authority to use the personal information (e.g., Social Security Number, credit card information, etc.), you may stand a better chance of avoiding conviction.
- Lack of Knowledge and/or Intent: Many types of identity theft allegations also require that an individual knowingly used personal information in an unlawful manner. Although the prosecution can often satisfy this element by demonstrating “constructive knowledge,” meaning that you should have known, your federal identity theft attorney can present evidence to refute that claim. In many instances, particularly in our new age of technology, viruses and other malware can use your computer to conduct unlawful activity without your knowledge. In other cases, individuals may mistakenly place orders online with a previous user’s account.
- Violations of Constitutional Rights: Although not strictly a defense, violations of individual’s Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights may render unlawfully obtained evidence inadmissible. This can include unlawful search and seizures, improper notification of Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights (“Miranda Rights”), and conducting post-indictment line-ups without your attorney present.
A Baltimore City federal identity theft lawyer can draw on his criminal defense experience to build a strong defense based on the fact-specific circumstances of your case.
How a Baltimore City Federal Identity Theft Lawyer Can Help
You have legal rights if you have been accused of identity theft, and you deserve to have those rights protected. A Baltimore City federal identity theft lawyer can help you to raise defenses including insufficient evidence; illegal search; and lack of intent to commit an identity theft offense. An attorney could also help you try to get charges dropped or to negotiate a plea bargain so you can reduce penalties.
Contact a Baltimore City federal identity theft lawyer today to learn more about what an attorney can do for you.