Identity Theft

Legal Guidance for Clearwater and St. Petersburg Residents Facing White Collar Charges

The idea of using someone else’s identity in order to obtain money, goods, or services - or to avoid being implicated in a crime like terrorism or espionage - is nothing new. However, technological advancements made over the last few decades have made the crime of identity theft increasingly common. Because of the amount of money that is lost annually to this crime, prosecutors are very aggressive in pursuing people who allegedly commit acts of identity theft. However, not everyone accused of stealing or fabricating an identity is guilty. St. Petersburg and Clearwater identity theft lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law can help you defend yourself if you are facing an accusation of identity theft or another white collar crime.

Financial identity theft, identity cloning, medical identity theft, child identity theft, synthetic identity theft (in which a new identity is fabricated rather than stolen from an existing person), and even criminal identity theft (pretending to be someone else after being arrested on criminal charges) are all on the rise in Florida. Although there are many different types of identity theft, the basic components of the crime are fairly succinct. Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses someone else’s personal information in a fraudulent or deceptive manner in order to obtain some type of gain or benefit to which they are not entitled. Specific statutes may add additional components. For example, the federal Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1028, makes it a crime to possess a "means of identification" that is either issued by the U.S. government or intended to defraud someone in the U.S., is sent through the mail, or is used in a manner that affects interstate commerce.

Understanding the Legal Process of an Identity Theft Case

When someone is accused of criminal wrongdoing such as identity theft, the government has the burden of proving that person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While this does not require that the jury be 100% certain of the defendant’s guilt, it does require the elimination of any doubt beyond a degree of moral certainty. An identity theft attorney in Clearwater or St. Petersburg knows that this is a much heavier burden than in a civil case in which one person sues someone else for damages. Thus, there are often many ways to cast doubts on the prosecution’s ability to prove each element of the charge.

During pretrial proceedings, and even during the trial itself, it is not unusual for the trial court judge to be asked to rule on the admissibility of certain evidence. If the judge decides that a particular piece of evidence should not be admitted at trial because it was obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the government’s case may begin to crumble. In this situation, the prosecution may be more open to a plea bargain agreement on lesser charges or a less harsh sentence. If the case proceeds to trial, the defendant’s attorney may argue that even legally admissible evidence, such as a certain witness’ testimony, should not be weighed heavily by the jury because it is untrustworthy. Perhaps a witness has a motive to undermine the defendant, or perhaps they did not have a clear understanding of what happened.

Retain an Identity Theft Lawyer in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, or the Surrounding Cities

Fighting a criminal accusation can be difficult, and it pays to have a skilled attorney by your side at the earliest stages of a legal proceeding if at all possible. Knowledgeable theft attorney Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law will stand by your side from the investigative phase of the case all the way through trial. He can protect your legal rights and do everything within his power to achieve an outcome in your case that allows you to move forward with your life. Call us at 727-897-5413 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. St. Petersburg and Clearwater identity theft attorney Will Hanlon also fights for the rights of people in Newport Richey and Dade City, among other areas.