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Michigan Identity Theft Lawyer

Although identity theft is often thought of as a victimless crime, using someone else’s identity to purchase goods or services without paying for them is the equivalent of directly stealing from that person. As technology advances and people use cash less often to purchase items, identity theft is becoming a serious problem nationwide, leading to strict laws meant to deter these crimes.

Michigan has taken a hard stance against identity theft and those suspected of identity theft often face harsh penalties. Even possessing the personal identifying information of another person can be enough for the prosecution to charge you with identity theft. Therefore, if you are facing charges of identity theft, you may need the guidance of an experienced fraud attorney who could attempt to help you avoid a potentially lengthy prison sentence. A Michigan identity theft lawyer could help you fight for your rights and protect yourself every step of the way.

Elements of Identity Theft

Because it is difficult to prevent identity theft, those defendants suspected of this crime are often zealously prosecuted. Merely possessing the personal identifying information of another person can be enough to support a felony conviction if the prosecution is able to prove that the defendant had the requisite element of intent. However, an experienced Michigan identity theft lawyer who understands the legal elements that affect these types of cases is often able to help individuals avoid conviction by weakening the prosecution’s case.

In addition, because identity theft often occurs as part of a wider criminal enterprise, defendants accused of identity theft are often in a position to engage in plea bargaining with the prosecution. With legal assistance, defendants may be able to make beneficial deals to avoid jail time in exchange for providing information leading to higher profile arrests.

Penalties

Identity theft is punished harshly in Michigan. Those defendants convicted of identity theft are guilty of a felony offense, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Repeat offenders are subject to more severe penalties, with prison sentences of up to 15 years.

In addition to the criminal and civil penalties that identity theft defendants face, they may also be required to pay restitution, meaning they will have to reimburse the alleged victims for any assets or goods they obtained through fraudulent means.

Michigan Identity Theft Protection Act

Michigan’s Identity Theft Protection Act defines identity theft as a form of fraud in which one person uses the personal identifying information of another to buy goods or services, or to apply for credit, without that person’s permission. Identity theft can occur even if nothing has been physically stolen. If a thief has the social security number, address, or in some cases even the name of another person, they can open accounts in that person’s name without paying for them.

In Michigan, a person commits identity theft by using the personal identifying information of another person with the intent to defraud in order to obtain goods, services, or credit, or to commit any other illegal act. A defendant charged with identity theft is entitled to raise the affirmative defense that they had the consent of the person whose personal identifying information was used, provided that person did not know the information would be used to commit an unlawful act. An experienced identity theft lawyer in Michigan will be able to determine which defenses are available to their client based on the circumstances leading to their arrest.

Personal Identifying Information

Personal identifying information includes any name, number, or other identifying information used for the purpose of identifying a specific individual or of providing access to an individual’s financial accounts.

This broad definition includes, but is not limited to, a person’s full name, their mother’s maiden name, their social security or taxpayer identification number, their passport number, their account numbers, their fingerprint, their automated or electronic signature, and any password in combination with other information sufficient to enable someone else to access their personal accounts.

Importance of a Michigan Fraud Attorney

If you have been accused of identity theft in Michigan, you could face severe life-altering consequences if convicted. With so much on the line, you need the best legal help you can get. A Michigan identity theft lawyer can begin building your defense strategy as soon as possible. Speak with a qualified identity theft attorney that could devote the time and resources necessary to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.