Attorney DeBruin defends individuals who have been charged with identity theft. The firm does not represent victims of identity theft.
In an age where most transactions involve the transmission of identification data, the threat of identity theft and fraud is a daily concern. The state of Michigan recognized the dangers of identity theft more than a decade ago and took action by passing the Identity Theft Protection Act, which became effective on March 1, 2005.
The state’s Identity Theft Protection Act defines the crime of identity theft and other prohibited acts related to personal records while setting forth the penalties for violations. Michigan has established severe penalties for identity theft that include potential prison terms and substantial fines.
If you or someone you know is facing identity theft charges, it is vital to contact a Lansing identity theft lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to provide a strong defense.
Call DeBruin Law, PLLC, today at 517-731-0353 to find out how we can help you.
Personal Identifying Information
The basis for identity theft crimes in Michigan is the prohibited use of personal identifying information. The Identity Theft Protection Act defines personal identifying information as “a name, number, or other information that is used for the purpose of identifying a specific person or providing access to a person’s financial accounts.” Basic information such as a person’s name, address and Social Security number are considered personal identifying information, but the law’s broad definition also encompasses a wide range of additional information that includes:
- Health insurance identification numbers
- Mother’s maiden name
- Employee identification numbers
- Medical records
- Biometric information
Identity Theft Defined
The Identity Theft Protection Act defines the offense of identity theft as involving the use of personal identifying information to do either of the following:
- Obtain credit, goods, services, money, property, a vital record, a confidential telephone record, medical records or information, or employment
- Commit another type of unlawful act
Identity theft can be committed either with an intent to defraud or by concealing or misrepresenting a person’s identity. In simpler terms, using the personal identifying information of someone else to impersonate that person in order to obtain property or private records can lead to charges of identity theft.
Criminal Penalties For Identity Theft
The criminal penalties for identity theft in Michigan can be severe. A first offense is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $25,000. Second offenses are punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $50,000. Any subsequent violations are punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years and a fine of up to $75,000. It is important to note that these penalties are for the identity theft alone, and you could still face all the additional criminal penalties for fraud, forgery or any other crimes committed due to the identity theft.
Forfeiture Of Property
In addition to the criminal penalties for identity theft, the Identity Theft Protection Act contains provisions for the forfeiture of any property that was used, possessed or acquired during the commission of identity theft. In addition to items such as computers and electronic equipment used for the commission of identity theft, items such as vehicles, boats and even aircraft are subject to forfeiture if associated with the crime. The law goes so far as to allow for the forfeiture of money or any other things of value found in close proximity to items associated with the identity theft. The far-reaching forfeiture provision means that in many situations, the subsequent property forfeiture could damage you financially much more than the maximum criminal fines.
Defenses For Identity Theft
The Identity Theft Protection Act does provide for defenses against identity theft charges in certain circumstances. However, the defenses are considered an affirmative defense, which means it is necessary for you to raise the defense and to meet the burden of proof on that defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
The affirmative defenses to identity theft charges include:
- You were giving a gift for the person whose personal identifying information was used.
- Your actions were authorized by law or by court order.
- You took the action with consent of the person whose personal identifying information was used, unless the person knew the information would be used to commit a criminal act.
- The personal identifying information was obtained for the purpose of detecting or deterring identity theft or another crime.
How A Lansing Identity Theft Lawyer Can Help
Identity theft charges in Michigan are often just the beginning of your legal troubles. Additional charges because of the identity theft can lead to a confusing mix of potential prison terms, criminal fines and property forfeitures. It is important to have a skilled Lansing identity theft attorney who understands the affirmative defenses provided in the Identity Theft Protection act and has the experience to defend you against any additional criminal charges.
Attorney Tiffany DeBruin is a Michigan criminal defense attorney who is passionate about providing strong legal representation for defendants facing serious charges. She has years of experience defending clients on a wide range of criminal charges and is familiar with the courts in and around Lansing.