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Phoenix Identity Theft and Forgery Lawyer

Phoenix Identity Theft and Forgery LawyerIdentity theft is a major issue that plagues thousands of Americans every year. Identity theft is taken very seriously now because it has the potential to financially ruin a person whose identity is stolen.  Identity theft can happen virtually anywhere.

While we see identity theft committed at the Arizona MVD and in banks across the state, this crime is often committed without any witnesses through the internet, so it is important to keep in mind that you are innocent until proven guilty if you have been arrested for charges of identity theft.

Contact an experienced Phoenix identity theft and forgery attorney today to begin forming your defense strategy.

Identity Theft and Forgery in Phoenix, Arizona

Identity theft, classified under the Fraud & Identity Theft Enforcement Bureau, is a modern white-collar crime and is tricky to discover due to the emergence of the internet. Arizona is one of the top states in fraud and identity theft crimes, which target people of all ages in all professions. It has been found in more recent cases that both the state and federal laws provide harsher punishments for anyone convicted.

Just last year, for example, an Arizona man was sentenced to a 30-year prison term for stealing and fraudulently using credit cards he took from a woman he dated. The man additionally will serve a concurrent 15-year sentence for aggravated identity theft, indicating the magnitude of the crime itself. Hiring a Phoenix criminal defense attorney will give you the best chance for a drop or reduced penalty.

The crime of identity theft involves the theft of a person’s personal or financial information in order to commit fraud, such as:

  • Rent an apartment
  • Make purchases
  • Obtain utilities
  • Re-route tax refund

Under Arizona law, identity theft and forgery can come with quite severe punishments. Arizona classifies felony offenses by first stating the “presumptive” penalty, which can be either increased or decreased depending on outside circumstances.

Identity theft is a Class 4 felony, with a 2.5-year presumptive prison term. However, aggravated identity theft may occur by taking the identity of 5 or more persons or by causing the financial loss of $3,000 to one person. Aggravated identity theft is a Class 3 felony, with a 3.5-year presumptive prison sentence. Trafficking in the identity of another person refers to the sale or transfer of personal identifying information without the victim’s consent to cause a loss. This is a Class 2 felony with a 5-year presumptive prison sentence.

A person may also be subject to federal charges if they crossed state lines to commit identity theft or fraud, or acquired the victim’s identity over the internet. Federal charges can be quite severe as well, with a punishment range of anywhere from 5 to 30 years in federal prison, in these cases, it is imperative to seek help from a Phoenix criminal defense attorney.

How Do People Report Identity Theft?

Prior to the police actually making an arrest for alleged identity theft, the person reporting the crime will need to go through a few different outlets to notify authorities of the issue. The United States government has detailed guidelines for people who believe they are experiencing identity theft. These guidelines include calling the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), creating an identity recovery plan, and contacting other federal agencies, if necessary.

The police may handle an identity theft report right away, working with the FTC, the IRS, the victim’s financial institution, and/or other organizations to uncover details about the case and potentially to make an arrest. The victim may also need to report the incident to the police separately. To catch an alleged identity thief, police officers may use strategies such as tracking the stolen information or fraudulent purchases.

Potential Defenses to an Identity Theft Charge

With the right attorney, it is possible to defend yourself against identity theft charges in Phoenix. If you believe police may arrest you for stealing someone’s identity or information, contact us ASAP. The sooner you hire an attorney, the better you can protect your rights as a suspect. The same is true if Arizona police have already placed you under arrest or charged you with identity theft or fraud. You need an experienced attorney to help you present a strong, appropriate defense. Possible defense strategies may include:

  • Insufficient evidence. Prosecutors often find it difficult to prove the guilt of an alleged identity thief. Because there are so many outlets for stealing a person’s identity, it can be hard to track the perpetrator accurately. Investigators may be using unreliable information to make their case. You are innocent until proven guilty. Proving your guilt will require convincing evidence against you.
  • Mistaken identity. The prosecution will have to prove you are in fact the person who took the plaintiff’s identity or information. It’s possible the police have made a mistake, wrongfully accusing you of the crime. This is more common today than in the past due to the lack of face-to-face interactions between perpetrators and victims. Having a physical or digital alibi could get you off the hook for a crime you didn’t commit.
  • It might be possible to avoid conviction by showing you thought you were using the person’s credit card or information in good faith. For example, if you honestly thought your boss had given you permission to use the company credit card for a purchase, you might not be guilty of identity theft or fraud. Clearing up a misunderstanding, proving consent, or showing a lack of intent to commit the crime could lead to the court dropping the charges.

Don’t speak to any investigators prior to calling a lawyer. In most identity theft cases, investigators watch potential suspects for long periods of time before making a move. Investigators might know a lot more about your case than they let on. Do not speak with an investigator until you have an attorney present. The law does not force you to answer any questions without legal counsel by your side.

Orent Law Offices | Phoenix Identity Theft and Forgery Attorney

Orent Law Offices excels at listening to a criminal defendant’s particular situation and tailoring a unique, personalized defense strategy for that individual. If police in Phoenix have arrested you for alleged identity theft, waste no time in calling our firm.

We’ll instantly go to work on your case, helping you protect yourself during conversations with investigators and police officers. Help from our lawyer could make all the difference in the criminal consequences of your case, whether you did or did not commit the crime. We can help you achieve the best possible outcome for the identity theft case against you.

If you have been accused of identity theft, contact the Phoenix defense attorneys at Orent Law Offices. Phoenix identity theft and forgery attorney Craig Orent has over 33 years of experience as a defense lawyer, defending clients against criminal charges, and will work tirelessly on your case. He will examine all aspects of your case to ensure the court is aware of all mitigating factors that could reduce your punishment range down from the state-mandated presumptive range.