Identity theft in Brooklyn is considered a serious crime – and it’s one that could carry serious penalties if you’re convicted.
What Counts as Identity Theft?
Identity theft can refer to a number of different offenses. The crime typically occurs when someone gets a victim’s personally identifying information and then uses that information for his or her own benefit.
Personally identifying information can include:
Credit card numbers
Debit card numbers
Social Security numbers
Checking account numbers
Driver’s license information
A mother’s maiden name
Account numbers and passwords for financial institutions
Computer system passwords
Taxpayer identification numbers
Signatures or copies of signatures
Crimes such as forgery, credit card fraud and creating fake passports can all fall under the umbrella of identity theft charges in the state of New York.
Are There Varying Degrees of Identity Theft?
Identity theft can be classified four different ways in New York:
Each is defined by how aggressive the crime is, as well as the intent behind it. Further, each degree goes up in severity (with third being the least serious and first being the most serious), both in act and in punishment.
For example, the state could charge you with identity theft in the third degree if you assumed another person’s identity for your own personal gain; however, if you have been convicted of other crimes within the past 5 years, the state could charge you with second-degree identity theft.
In order for New York State to charge you with first-degree identity theft, you must knowingly and with intent to defraud, assume someone else’s identity – but it doesn’t stop there. You must also have obtained goods, money, property or services (or use credit) in the other person’s name in an amount that exceeds $2,000.
Aggravated identity theft is characterized by its victim: a member of the Armed Forces.
Each degree of identity theft is classified as a different type of crime, as well.
Third-degree identity theft is a Class A misdemeanor
Second-degree identity theft is a Class E felony
First-degree identity theft is a Class D felony
Aggravated identity theft is a Class D felony
What to Do if You’re Charged with Identity Theft in Brooklyn
If you’ve been charged with this crime, no matter what the circumstances leading up to your arrest were, it’s a good idea to talk to a criminal defense attorney who understands the ins and outs of New York law.
Whether you’re being accused of forgery, credit card fraud or using someone else’s identification cards, it’s important that you don’t say anything to investigators until you’ve had a chance to speak with your lawyer. The same goes for charges of creating new identities, compiling information or being in possession of a skimming device.
Your lawyer will act quickly to preserve your rights while you’re being detained by police. You have the right to remain silent, so use it. It’s common knowledge that police investigators will say things such as, “If you confess, this will be a lot easier on you,” and otherwise mislead suspects – so don’t say anything until you’ve talked to your attorney, even if you are completely innocent.
Remember that anything you say can be used against you, and investigators may even take your responses out of context. It’s their job to “get the bad guy,” and if they think it’s you, they’ll stop at nothing to get you to say what they want to hear.
Charges that Combine with Identity Theft Charges in NY Courts
In many cases, prosecutors are eager to heap several charges on someone they suspect of identity theft. You may find yourself facing even steeper penalties, particularly if you’ve been charged with:
Possession of a forged instrument
Possession of stolen property
Scheme to defraud
Unlawful possession of personal identifying information
Unlawful possession of a skimmer device
No matter what prosecutors try to charge you with, you are considered innocent until they can prove you are guilty. That’s why it’s so important that you avoid giving investigators any ammunition they can use against you in court.
What Your ID Theft Lawyer Needs to Know
Your lawyer will probably ask you several questions if police have arrested you for identity theft. Your honest answers are very important, because they allow your attorney to build a solid defense on your behalf. He might ask you questions such as:
Do you know anything about people who may have been involved in this crime?
Do you have reason to believe someone “set you up” for this crime?
Do you have any evidence that you’re not guilty?
Every case is different, so your lawyer will adapt to your circumstances to ask the right questions in order to build your defense.
The bottom line is that if someone accuses you of identity theft, even if you’re innocent, you’ll need to lawyer up. Working with an attorney is your best shot at getting the most favorable outcome possible.