Identity Theft: A Growing Problem
Our information is everywhere online these days. We bank, buy, sell, and invest online. And all too often, that information is hacked, stolen, or just made available when we least expect it. With so much of our personal information so readily available online, it is any wonder that identity theft is growing to epic proportions?
All too often, one piece of information leads to another. Before you know it, someone is draining your bank account, or worse, using your personal information to buy goods and ensuring that you get stuck with the bill.
But the opposite happens as well. And a person with proximity to information can get charged with identity theft erroneously, often while the real thieves get away. Here is what you need to know about identity theft in Wagoner, Oklahoma.
Identity Theft Defined
In Oklahoma, identity theft is defined as willfully and with fraudulent intent, obtaining information such as a person’s name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, employment, debit or credit account numbers, driver license number, or any other personal identifying information, for the purpose of obtaining money, credit, goods, services, or the like without the consent of the other person. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1533.1
The statute also prohibits:
- the use of personal information to fraudulently obtain credit or anything of value or to obtain any identifying information in the name of that person;
- the willful creation or changing of another’s personal identifying information with the intent to fraudulently obtain anything of value or to control, use, or encumber another person’s credit, accounts, goods, property, title, or any other interest or benefit without consent; and
- lending, selling, or giving any of your identifying information to another person so that they can use it to create or obtain identification documents.
Intent and Other Defenses
Merely obtaining this information for this purpose is the hallmark of this statute. You do not actually have to have sold the information to be found in violation of Oklahoma state law. But to secure a conviction, a prosecutor must prove that you had the intent to use this information to better your own financial situation, even if at a later point in time.
Intent can be a difficult thing to prove. In this case, a prosecutor must prove a person’s state of mind while that person was obtaining another’s personal information. Sometimes a person makes this admission when being questioned by the police or on the witness stand. But more often, a prosecutor will try to prove intent through circumstantial evidence.
Here the prosecutor must prove that a person acted knowingly and with fraudulent intent. Without direct admission of intent, a prosecutor will have to cobble together other pieces of evidence to show intent. This could be emails, public statements made by the defendant, and the like. This kind of circumstantial evidence is often vulnerable to attack by an experienced Wagoner criminal defense attorney.
The other big defense to this crime is permission. If you are acting with permission, there is no identity theft.
Penalties for Identity Theft
The penalties are harsh. You could face one to five years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.
In addition, the court may order you to pay restitution to the victim. Also, the victim may bring a civil action against you for damages. A victim can obtain monetary damages in a civil suit that you may never be able to pay off.
Explain the facts of your case to your criminal defense attorney, not to the police. And remember that what seems to you like a trivial fact may make a big difference in your defense.
Free Consultation: Wagoner Criminal Defense Attorney
When you or someone you care about is facing charges for this or any other crime in the Wagoner, Oklahoma area, the criminal defense lawyers at Wirth Law Office – Wagoner are here to provide you a free consultation. Let’s discuss what our team can do to handle your criminal matter.
Call us at 918-485-0335 to schedule your confidential and no-cost consultation.
You may also contact us by email using the form at the top of this page.
Either way you reach out to our team, we’ll get back to you promptly to answer your legal questions.