Aggravated Identity Theft

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Aggravated identity theft, pursuant to section 1028A of Title 18 of the United States Code, is a serious federal offense that carries severe consequences. Generally speaking, aggravated identity theft occurs when a defendant knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses the identity of another person during the act of certain felony offenses.

Elements of Aggravated Identity Theft

To be found guilty of aggravated identity theft, the Government must prove several elements.

Knowingly Transferring, Possessing, or Using: The defendant must knowingly transfer, possess, or use, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person. The means of identification can be someone else’s driver’s license, passport, social security number, etc.

During or in Relation to a Specified Felony: The unauthorized use or possession of the means of identification must occur during or in relation to specific felonies listed in the statute. These offenses include: theft of public money, embezzlement, theft of employee benefit plans; false personation of citizenship; false statements in connection with acquiring a firearm; fraud; making false statements; mail, bank, or wire fraud; obtaining a passport, visa, nationality, or citizenship; obtaining customer information by false pretenses; creating a false alien registration card after being ordered to be deported; other immigration offenses; and making false statements under the Social Security Act.

Examples of Aggravated Identity Theft

Fraudulent Financial Transactions: Utilizing someone else’s personal information, such as social security numbers or bank account details, to engage in fraudulent financial activities like credit card fraud or unauthorized fund transfers.

False Representation: Assuming another individual’s identity to gain employment, benefits, or to evade immigration regulations, such as using false identification to obtain work illegally or to secure government benefits fraudulently.

Terrorism-Related Offenses: Using another person’s identity to conceal involvement in terrorist activities, procure funds, or facilitate illegal movements across borders, posing a threat to national security.

Internet-Related Crimes: Committing identity theft through online platforms, including phishing scams or hacking to obtain personal information for fraudulent purposes.

Defenses Against Aggravated Identity Theft

Consent: Demonstrating that the accused had authorized access to the personal information in question can be a strong defense. For instance, if the accused had consent to use the information for a specific purpose, it might negate the element of unauthorized use.

Mistaken Identity: Establishing that the accused was mistakenly identified as the individual involved in the unlawful use of another person's identity. Mistaken identity or lack of concrete evidence connecting the accused to the crime can form a robust defense.

Lack of Use: If the defendant possesses the identifying information of another person, but there is no evidence that he used that identifying information during the commission of a specified felony, then the case against the defendant would be very weak.

This offense carries a mandatory consecutive two-year prison sentence upon conviction. Therefore, it is essential to hire a criminal defense attorney that will thoroughly analyze the prosecution’s evidence, challenge the elements of the offense, and leverage applicable defenses to secure the best outcome for the accused.

If you have been charged with aggravated identity theft, it is necessary that you discuss your case immediately with a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut has extensive experience representing clients in federal court and understands what strategies to employ to defend against these charges.

For more information about the criminal justice process, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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