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The digital age means that almost everyone's personal information is available on the internet. The theft or use of another person's personal information for a financial transaction may constitute identity theft. However, beyond this simple definition, Michigan's laws concerning identity theft include the illegal use of a person's identity for almost any reason.
Because of this, it is important to be aware of what counts as identity theft under Michigan law. Many people are surprised to learn that they are facing identity theft charges for what seems like an innocent mistake or for actions that do not involve the transfer of money. A Michigan identity theft lawyer can help you thoroughly understand these charges. Call an experienced fraud attorney today to schedule a consultation.Actions that Count as Identity Theft
The classic concept of identity theft is the use of another person's personal information for a monetary purpose. Indeed, Michigan Compiled Law §445.65 states that it is illegal for any person to obtain any goods, credit, services, or employment with another person's information. However, the law expands upon this definition to include other examples of identity fraud including:
- Sending emails or communications that appear to be from a business when they are not
- Possessing any personally identifying information concerning another person with the intent to use it to commit a crime
- Selling personally identifying information to another person when the seller has reason to know that the buyer will use it to commit a crime
Therefore, identity theft involves not just the classic definition of financial or online crimes, but also the sale of items that could be used in identity theft. In short, the crime may involve any conduct meant to defraud another person into believing that the person they are dealing with is someone else.Defenses Available in Michigan Identity Theft Cases
Just as the law outlines the activities that count as identity theft, the law also provides some affirmative defenses someone may raise at trial. An affirmative defense works when a defendant admits to the actions the court accuses them of doing. However, they argue that their actions were justified by law.
For example, Michigan Compiled Law §445.65(2) states that someone may be able to argue they obtained the information in their capacity as a legal officer or state worker. Another defense claims the person acted with the authorization of the information's rightful owner.
In addition, the penalties for identity fraud are severe. Under Michigan Compiled Law §445.69, a first offense for identity fraud may be a felony level offense and may result in a prison term of up to five years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. Subsequent offenses may increase the potential prison term to a maximum of 15 years and the fine of $75,000. A Michigan identity theft lawyer could help someone build a viable defense for their charge.A Michigan Identity Theft Attorney Could Help
Identity fraud is a felony level offense that could result in multiple years in prison and astronomical fines. Further, you may be labeled as a felon and could be disqualified from voting, owning a firearm, and working many jobs. The stakes are high.
Do not take any unnecessary chances with your future. Speak with an attorney who can advocate for your rights every step of the way. Contact a Michigan identity theft lawyer today to schedule a consultation.