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Identity theft carries serious penalties

Anytime you use someone's personal information for your own financial gain, it may be considered identity theft. You may be accused of identity theft if police believe you used someone else's credit card or opened a line of credit in another person's name without his or her permission. Being suspected of using another person's identification fraudulently, such as when you are applying for a job, may also result in a charge of identity theft.

Despite warnings and efforts to educate the public, people continue to leave their private information vulnerable to potential internet crimes. Many may not realize how little information it takes to open a credit account in their names. Some people obtain personal information by looking through the garbage for documents with sensitive details, like a person's birthday, social security number or bank account information. Others use more high-tech means, such as scanners or elaborate phone or email scams.

What penalties could you face if you are convicted of identity theft?

If you are charged with identity theft, you may be facing some serious consequences. Identity theft is considered a felony in Michigan, and penalties are harsh. If you are convicted, in addition to restitution, you may be sentenced to time in jail and hefty fines:

  • Maximum of five years, fine of $25,000 or both for first offense
  • Maximum of 10 years, fine of $50,000 or both for second offense
  • Maximum of 15 years, fine of $75,000 or both for third offense or beyond

Depending on the circumstances, you may also face federal penalties, which can include longer prison time and higher fines. A conviction of this type may also limit your chances of being hired for certain jobs.

How your attorney might defend you

Your attorney may use a variety of methods to defend you against the charges of identity theft. Showing you had the consent of the person to use his or her personal information or questioning the investigative tactics used by law enforcement are just two of the defense strategies a skilled attorney may use to protect your rights.

Since the charge of identity theft probably followed a lengthy investigation, having a lawyer by your side as quickly as possible will increase the chances of minimizing any negative consequences. It is never too early to have experienced legal counsel when police or federal agents begin questioning your activities.

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Portage, MI 49024

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