5 Ways to Defend Against Identity Theft and Fraud Charges
An identity theft or fraud charge is a major criminal offense. If you’ve been accused of either of these crimes, you need to take the issue seriously.
The penalties for fraud or identity theft in New Jersey are no laughing matter, including fines, jail time, seizure of your home or other assets, and having to make restitution to victims. An identity theft or fraud conviction on your record can make it a challenge to find a job or obtain a loan, and there may be other ramifications on your life.
The criminal defense attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC have decades of experience helping people throughout New Jersey in fraud and identity theft cases. Our lawyers are all former prosecutors who have taken that experience and put it to work on behalf of our clients.
Our case results show that we’re not afraid of a challenge. We’ll work diligently to protect your rights and provide a vigorous legal defense. Contact us now for a free and confidential discussion about your best options.
The standard of proof in criminal cases requires that the prosecution show “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant committed the crime. In some fraud and identity theft cases, the prosecution’s case may not be as strong as they think it is because of a lack of evidence.
Furthermore, evidence in criminal cases must be obtained through proper procedures. If police or prosecutors obtained evidence through illegal or suspect means, a knowledgeable defense attorney can file a motion to have the evidence thrown out, which can severely weaken the case against you.
Lack of Intent
Fraud and identity theft are both crimes that require intent for the accused to be found guilty. In other words, you must have been deliberately acting in a deceitful or illegal manner to be guilty of these crimes. If you and your lawyer can show that you were not acting with malicious intent, you can make a strong case that you are not guilty of the charges against you.
For example, accidentally using someone else’s credit card by mistake is not generally considered fraud because you did not deliberately steal from the person. However, if you realize that you’re using someone else’s credit card and continue to do so after discovering your error, it’s harder to argue that you did not intend to commit fraud.
Entrapment is when someone from law enforcement compels or coerces someone into committing a crime when that person would otherwise not have done so. While this defense makes sense in principle, in practice, it’s difficult to prove because judges and juries generally want to hold defendants accountable for their actions.
To prove entrapment, your attorney will have to point to specific facts of the case that show:
- You were approached by police, and/or they introduced the idea of you committing the crime in question.
- You were not “ready and willing” to commit the crime when you were first approached.
- Beyond providing the opportunity to commit the crime, the police also persuaded or coerced you into doing so, possibly through illegal activity.
As more people spend more of their lives online, identity theft and fraud crimes increasingly take place in digital spaces rather than in person. A person could be defrauded or have their identity stolen by someone they’ve never met who lives thousands of miles away. This makes it a challenge for law enforcement to track down perpetrators.
Given the challenges of proving many fraud and identity theft cases, it’s easy for police to make mistakes and charge the wrong person. In the event that you’ve been falsely accused of identity theft or fraud, a criminal defense lawyer can help you provide police with an alibi showing that you are not guilty. It may even be the case that someone stole your identity to commit fraud against someone else, making you the victim of a crime.
In identity theft and fraud cases, the duress defense works similarly to the entrapment defense. Basically, if you were ordered or coerced in some way to commit the crime, you may be able to avoid the penalties for your actions.
As is the case with the entrapment defense, though, there are certain elements that have to be present in order to prove you were under duress. For the duress defense to apply, you must show that you were threatened with serious and inescapable harm if you did not commit the crime. Additionally, the potential harm you faced must have been greater than the potential harm to the victims of your crimes.
If you can demonstrate these facts, you may be able to have your charges dismissed or have your sentence reduced.
Contact the Identity Theft Defense Attorneys at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC
Even though identity theft and fraud are considered “white collar” crimes, it’s important to hire an experienced and dedicated defense attorney if you’ve been charged. A conviction could derail your life in countless ways. You don’t want to take that chance.
The criminal defense lawyers at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC understand the gravity of a fraud or identity theft charge. That’s why we’ll work tirelessly to provide you with competent legal representation. With our experience and tenacity, we’ll come up with a sound strategy to present the case in a light that’s the most favorable to you. With three former prosecutors on our team, we know the ins and outs of these cases, giving us a substantial advantage.
If you’ve been charged with fraud or identity theft, you need to act quickly to start preparing your defense. Give us a call today or visit our contact page for your free initial consultation.