Also known as identify fraud, identify theft is felony offense punishable by up to five years in prison and/or $25,000 in fines. It convicted of a subsequent offense for identify theft, the penalty increases to 15 years in prison. It has been one of the fastest rising crimes in America for the last several years. A person is guilty of this offense when they use the personal information of another person or they withhold, conceal, or misrepresent the person’s identify to do one of the following:
- Obtain money, credit, goods, services, property, medical records or information, vital records, confidential phone records, or employment
- Any other unlawful act
Affirmative Defenses to Identity Theft
- The accused was given permission by the person whose personal identifying information was being used (unless the consenting person knows the information used will be for an unlawful act)
- The accused gave a bona fide gift to the person whose personal identifying information was being used for the benefit or control of or use or consumption by that person
- The action taken was authorized or required by state law, federal law, rule, regulation, or by court rule or court order
- The accused acted in lawful pursuit or enforcement of their legal rights, such as an investigation or a crime or audit, collection, investigation, or transfer of a debt, child or spousal support obligation, tax liability, claim, receivable, account, or interest in a receivable or account.
These are affirmative defenses that the accused can raise. Normally the prosecutor has the sole burden of proving the defendant’s guilty beyond all reasonable doubt and the defendant has no duty to prove or disprove anything. The one rare exception to that is an affirmative defense. If the defendant raises one of the defenses above at trial, the defendant has the burden of proving the defense by a preponderance of the evidence. That is the lowest standard of proof that our legal justice system permits. Think of it as 50.1% sure or a tipping of the scale. It is a much lower standard than the prosecutor’s burden of beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the standard that is applied to litigants in civil cases or small claims.
Personal Identifying Information
This includes a person’s name, address, social security number, tax account information, or any other information that could be used to identify a person or gain access to their financial records.
Other Prohibited Acts
The following are prohibited acts under the Identify Theft Protection Act as well:
- Send an email, set up a webpage, or use in any other type of communication for the purpose of soliciting personal identifying information
- Obtain for possess personal identifying information with the intent to use it unlawfully
- Sell or transfer a person’s personal identifying information
- Make a false police report of identity theft
Additionally, under MCL 750.539k it is unlawful to copy or transmit personal identifying information during a financial transaction. This is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.
Being charged with identify theft doesn’t prohibit you from being charged with other crimes as well. For example, you could be charged with larceny in addition to identify theft. The penalties for larceny vary depending on the amount stolen and where the larceny took place.
If you have been charged with identify theft, you need an experienced and aggressive advocate on your side. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to our Michigan identify theft defense attorney today.
Defending identify theft charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Shiawassee, Jackson, Livingston, Calhoun, Kent, Washtenaw in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Charlotte, Ithaca, Corunna, Jackson, Brighton, Howell, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor.