Being accused of identity theft can be a frightening experience. While low-dollar thefts aren’t likely to land you much jail time, the punishments can escalate quickly as those dollar amounts go up.
If you are currently facing identity theft charges, it is important to know your rights and how to protect yourself. This blog post will provide an overview of what to do if you are accused of identity theft, as well as some of the most effective defenses used against the prosecution.
When You First Find Out
Being notified that there is a warrant for your arrest seems surreal. That’s true regardless of whether you’re guilty. Every prison nightmare you ever watched on television immediately starts playing through your head.
Your first step when you hear this accusation? Don’t panic. That can be easier said than done, but it’s certainly possible provided that you’re doing the following:
- Immediately seeking legal representation
- Avoiding any and all statements to law enforcement until you have spoken with your attorney
- Exercising your right to remain silent
Law enforcement may try to lean in on you and hint at the evidence they have against you. Don’t go in for it. That’s a matter that should be discussed with your attorney once they arrive.
You Have Made Contact With the Attorney: Now What?
Your next step is to sit down with your attorney and go over everything you know about the identity theft accusation. This will help them build a defense against the charges.
From there, your attorney will likely want to see any evidence that the prosecution has against you. This will help them determine what they’re working with and what needs to be done to build a proper defense.
Common Defenses to Identity Theft Charges
There are a few different defenses that can be used against identity theft charges. The most common ones include:
- Lack of evidence: For a conviction to occur, the prosecution needs to have enough evidence to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If they do not have this, your charges will be dropped.
- Innocent explanation: In some cases, there may be an innocent explanation for the evidence the prosecution has against you. For example, if you have someone’s credit card number saved in your phone because you were going to return a lost item, that is not identity theft.
- Mistaken identity: If the prosecution has the wrong person, you are unlikely to be convicted of a crime you did not commit. That’s especially true with good legal representation.
It’s important to remember that the burden of proof is on law enforcement. They must be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were the one who not only accessed the information but also used it under pretenses. Without video evidence, that can be difficult to do!
Circumstantial Evidence But No Smoking Gun?
In this situation, your defense attorney will most likely argue that the prosecution’s case is based on circumstantial evidence. While this type of evidence can be convincing, it is not as strong as direct evidence. If the prosecution cannot prove that you were the one who committed the crime, you may be able to have the charges against you dropped.
Prosecutors hate losing cases, and they are reluctant to continue with a case they cannot prove in court. It’s at this point that you’ll need to decide whether you want to proceed with the trial or accept a deal pleading to a lesser charge. A good attorney will be able to help you understand what you’re up against and what your best course of action is moving forward.
Identity Theft Charges Require Smart Defense
If you have been accused of identity theft, it is important to take immediate action to protect yourself. You should seek legal representation, remain silent, and be cooperative but do not answer questions. You should also be mindful of what you’re up against and who you need to represent you.
John Teakell has handled many identity theft cases throughout his career as a defense attorney. He has also seen how the prosecution thinks and operates because he used to be a prosecutor. He can guide you through any questions that you may have in building a smart defense for a serious charge. Contact him today to learn more!