The criminal charge of identity theft is often poorly misunderstood. Many people who are accused of this crime aren’t sure how this happened or what they did wrong, while others have been falsely accused. Regardless of what did or didn’t occur, you have the right to hire a defense attorney and present a compelling case in your favor.
Below, we discuss some of the key points of identity theft in Las Vegas, Nevada, and what you can do if you or a family member were charged with this very serious offense.
How Nevada Defines Identity Theft
Under Nevada law, identity theft occurs when a person falsely uses someone else’s identity or a fake identity to either obtain something valuable like goods or money or to harm someone. Identity theft can be prosecuted whether or not something valuable was actually obtained and even if no one is hurt as a result.
It’s also considered a “wobbler” crime, which means it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on what the judge overseeing your case decides.
First-time offenders are more likely to receive a misdemeanor charge while people with extensive criminal histories or defendants who caused a great deal of damage as a result of the theft of someone’s identity are often charged with a felony instead.
Examples of Identity Theft
Identity theft can take many different shapes and can be hard to pin down. Here are just some examples of this offense and what it might look like in real life.
- You are under the age of 21 and purchase a fake ID to use to buy alcohol.
- You take someone else’s health insurance card and try to pass it off as your own at the doctor’s office.
- You use someone else’s social security number to apply for a credit card.
- You take someone else’s check and forge their signature on it to deposit money into your bank account.
- You apply to rent an apartment or to obtain other housing using someone else’s information because yours is problematic.
- You use someone else’s social security number to file taxes and avoid paying taxes you owe.
There are many more ways that identity theft can occur and if caught or falsely accused, your future is on the line and it’s important to take action as quickly as possible to protect yourself.
Penalties For Identity Theft In Nevada
What is the charge for identity theft? The State of Nevada takes fraud and identity theft charges seriously and has low-tolerance policies for this kind of criminal activity. If the crime is charged as a misdemeanor, the punishment will generally be lighter than if it were to be charged as a felony. Which classification to use is decided by the judge presiding over your case based on several different criteria including how the incident occurred and any past criminal history you may have.
Penalties vary depending on the severity of the circumstances surrounding a case and may include the following:
- Community service
- Jail time
- Restitution of victims
For example, if you are charged and convicted of identity theft that resulted in a $10,000 loss to an individual, you may face multiple penalties. You could be incarcerated and made to pay back the $10,000 to the person whose identity you stole and/or other people who suffered financial harm in the course of your committing the crime.
Who Prosecutes Identity Theft?
Several government agencies help investigate and prosecute identity theft charges:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Postal Inspection Service
- Secret Service
The FTC, among other federal agencies, help coordinate and provide resources to law enforcement, consumers, and businesses.
Potential Defenses Against Identity Theft Charges
There are several potential defenses against charges of identity theft in Nevada. Which your attorney uses depends on several factors that are hard to generalize. For example, if you take medication that affects your memory or cognition, your lawyer may be able to argue that you did not understand that your actions were illegal or constitute identity theft.
Here are some other possible defenses to consider:
- You did not know you were using someone else’s identity.
- You did not intend to commit any crimes while using someone else’s identity.
- You had permission from the other person to use their identifying information.
- The police found evidence of identity theft under the guise of an illegal search.
How an Experienced Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve been charged with identity theft, or even if you are just the subject of an investigation and haven’t been arrested, you must secure adequate legal representation as quickly as possible.
The ATAC Law Firm not only provides comprehensive criminal defense advocacy but also has an in-house team of private investigators that can help strengthen your defense by tracking down witnesses, getting statements, obtaining evidence of your alibi, and more.
Do you need an Identity Theft Attorney in Las Vegas?
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“How do you beat an identity theft charge in Nevada?”
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