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Phoenix Identity Theft and Forgery Lawyer

Phoenix Identity Theft and Forgery LawyerHave you been arrested for identity theft in Phoenix, AZ? Identity theft and related offenses like forgery are taken very seriously in Arizona, with harsh penalties if convicted. When you are facing a felony identity theft offense, you deserve a strong legal defense.

With over 33 years of experience, Craig Orent of Orent Law Offices represents clients facing all types of white collar offenses. Call our law office today for a free consultation with a Phoenix identity theft and forgery lawyer who will fight for you.

How Orent Law Offices Can Help if Facing Charges for Identity Theft or Forgery in Phoenix

Identity theft is taken very seriously, both under federal and state law. If you have been charged with identity theft, forgery, or related offenses in Phoenix, Arizona, time is of the essence to begin building a solid defense.

Craig Orent of Orent Law Offices has spent 33 years defending clients against all types of offenses, including felonies and federal charges. He is a Top 100 Lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, a prestigious designation claimed by just 3% of Arizona criminal defense attorneys. He will put his decades of experience and reputation to work on your behalf.

Choose Orent Law Offices to represent you in your identity theft case, and our Phoenix criminal lawyer will:

  • Offer experienced guidance and legal advice.
  • Perform a careful review of your case to search for violations of your constitutional rights
  • Gather exculpatory evidence that raises reasonable doubt or creates an alibi
  • Exploit weaknesses in the state’s case against you
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor to seek dismissed or reduced charges or alternative punishment options
  • Present a compelling defense before a jury

Contact our law office today to get started with your free case review with a Phoenix identity theft lawyer prepared to fight for you.

Overview of Identity Theft in Arizona

Under Arizona Revised Statutes §13-2008, identity theft is considered “taking the identity of another person or entity.” This is a Class 4 felony.

Identity theft is a common white collar crime that involves stealing, possessing, buying, recording, or using someone else’s personally identifiable information to open credit or commit another nefarious act.

You may be charged with identity theft if you commit any of these offenses using the personal information of a real or fictitious person or entity:

  • Without their consent and
  • With the intent of using or obtaining the other person’s identity for an unlawful purpose, or
  • To cause loss to the person or entity even if they do not suffer a loss, or
  • With the intent to continue or obtain employment.

Identity theft is a very broad charge that can be applied to many types of offenses. Identity theft is usually used to steal money or merchandise. For example, it may involve fraudulently opening a credit account or stealing credit card information.

However, identity theft can take other forms. It may involve stealing academic or job credentials. It can be used to fraudulently obtain a driver’s license or passport. It can even be used to steal healthcare benefits, secure housing, or avoid arrest.

Arizona has three separate identity theft charges:

  • Taking the identity of another person or entity, a Class 4 felony
  • Aggravated taking the identity of another person or entity, a Class 3 felony
  • Trafficking in the identity of another person or entity, a Class 2 felony

You may also face related identity theft charges like forgery.

Aggravated Identity Theft

You may face an aggravated identity theft charge under Arizona Revised Statutes §13-2009.

This offense occurs if you:

  • Take, buy, record, possess, manufacture, or use personally identifying information from 3 or more people or entities,
  • Cause the other person or entity to experience an economic loss of at least $1,000, or
  • Knowingly accept another person’s identity if you know it was stolen or false and use it to determine if the person who presented the identity information has authorization to work in the U.S.

In Arizona, aggravated identity theft is a Class 3 felony.

Trafficking in the Identity of Another Person or Entity

The most serious identity theft charge in Arizona is a trafficking charge under Arizona Revised Statutes §13-2010. You may be charged with this offense for knowingly selling, transferring, or transmitting the personal identifying information of another person or entity without consent.

Trafficking in the identity of another person or entity is a Class 2 felony in Arizona.

Identity Theft and Forgery in Arizona

When you are charged with identity theft, you may be charged with a separate and related offense. Forgery is one of the most common offenses charged with identity theft. In Arizona, you can face separate charges for forgery and identity theft.

Forgery is defined under ARS §13-2002 as completing, creating, possessing, offering, or presenting information that has false information, documents, or instruments with an intent to defraud.

The greater the number of forged documents found in your possession, the easier it becomes for the state to prove intent to defraud. Someone found with five forged documents meets the statutory number to infer intent to defraud.

Forgery is a Class 4 felony in Arizona. However, if forged documents are used in an attempt to buy, rent, or lease property used as a drop house to facilitate smuggling, it becomes a Class 3 felony.

Other Offenses Related to Identity Theft

There are many other offenses under Arizona Revised Statutes that may be considered identity theft.

You may face an identity theft charge along with the following:

  • Criminal Possession of a Forgery Device (ARS §13-2003), a Class 5 or Class 6 felony.
  • Theft (ARS §13-1802), which may be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of money, property, or services stolen
  • Theft of a Credit Card (ARS §13-2102) is a Class 5 felony.
  • Fraudulent use of a Credit Card (ARS §13-2103) is a Class 1 misdemeanor, Class 6 felony, or Class 5 felony depending on the value of goods, services, and money obtained.
  • Obtaining a Signature by Deception (ARS §13-2005) is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Criminal Impersonation (ARS §13-2006) is a Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony. It applies in many scenarios. It may be charged when an undocumented worker uses false information to obtain employment. It can also apply when someone impersonates a police officer or official. Sometimes it is charged when someone impersonates another for access to healthcare, a school, or a job.

These are only some of the charges that may accompany identity theft in Arizona. Depending on the alleged offenses and how you are alleged to have used the stolen identity, you may face additional charges related to fraud, such as welfare fraud under (ARS §46-215).

Federal Identity Theft Charges

Identity theft is also a crime under the federal Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. This law prohibits knowingly transferring or using someone else’s means of identification without authority and with the intent to commit unlawful activity. There are additional federal penalties for aggravated identity theft.

Several government agencies investigate and prosecute identity theft, including the Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

You may face federal charges if you acquired a victim’s identity online or crossed state lines to commit fraud or identity theft. A federal identity theft conviction can be punishable by 5 to 30 years.

What Are the Penalties for Identity Theft and Forgery in Phoenix, AZ?

Arizona law carries harsh penalties for identity theft and forgery. Both offenses, outside aggravating factors, are Class 4 felonies. Each offense carries a presumptive 2.5-year prison sentence.

Aggravating factors can increase the penalties you face, however. Aggravated identity theft, a Class 3 felony, has a presumptive sentence of 3.5 years. A trafficking identity theft charge is a Class 2 felony with a 5-year presumptive sentence.

Note that presumptive sentences can be increased or decreased depending on the circumstances in your case. You may face a sentence higher than the presumptive term if, for example, you have a prior criminal record.

What Defenses Can Be Raised If I’m Accused of Identity Theft and Forgery in Arizona?

There are many ways you may defend yourself against accusations of identity theft and forgery. Criminal defense lawyers may recommend the following strategies to defend a Phoenix identity theft charge.

Mistaken Identity

The state must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you are the person who took or used the person’s personal information or identity. You may have been wrongfully accused if law enforcement made a mistake.

Insufficient Evidence

A common defense to forgery and identity theft is a lack of sufficient evidence. It can be incredibly hard for investigators to track the perpetrator of identity theft or even determine exactly how, where, and when it happened. The state’s case may be built on unreliable information or circumstantial evidence.

Consent or Lack of Intent

You may be able to defend yourself if you can demonstrate that you thought you were using the other person’s information or their debit or credit card in good faith.

There may have been a simple misunderstanding in which you thought you had permission, for example. You might have lacked intent to commit the crime and deprive anyone if you were using the information to benefit the alleged victim, who may be a senior or dependent adult who needed assistance.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Our Phoenix Identity Theft and Forgery Lawyer

Under Arizona law, forgery or an identity theft crime comes with very harsh penalties. If you have been investigated or arrested for identity theft or related offenses, call Orent Law Offices as soon as possible. Our Phoenix identity theft and forgery lawyer will help you protect your rights and build your defense.

Call our law firm today for your free consultation to find out how we can help you.

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