Identity theft who a serious crime

Identity theft refers to using someone else’s personal identifying information in order to commit fraud or receive some type of benefit, usually monetary in nature. Personal identifying information includes a person’s name, checking account number, routing number, credit card number or social security number, to name a few. Identity theft only occurs when someone does not give his or her consent to use such information. If a person gives his or her credit card to someone else and permission to use it, this likely will not result in identity theft because consent was rendered. However, there may be other charges or claims through this conduct. Identity theft requires the person perpetrating the crime to have the intent to commit fraud or some other crime.

Instances of Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that more than 9 million Americans have their identities stolen every year. The victims may not even be aware that they have been victimized in this nature until months or years later, after which time their credit can be ruined and their reputation may be damaged.

Crimes Perpetrated through Identity Theft

Individuals commit a variety of crimes by stealing other people’s identifying information. These crimes may include leasing an apartment or house by using someone else’s credit information. An identity may be stolen in order to acquire a credit card in someone else’s name. Utilities may even be furnished by using someone else’s name and identifying information.

When Identity Theft Occurs

Identify theft starts when an identity thief acquires personal identifying information, like a social security number or credit card number. In some cases, the victim may be alive. In other cases, a deceased person’s identity is taken. Still other cases revolve around the theft of a minor’s information. Whether the victim is a minor, dead or alive does not typically change the criminal nature of the conduct.

Ways Identity Theft Are Committed

Identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal the identity of others. The most traditional method is to steal something that belongs to the victim. This may be committed when a thief goes into a home while the victim is at work. He or she may rifle through papers until he or she finds something with identifying information such as a driver’s license number or social security number. Someone’s purse or wallet may be stolen. Someone may look through thrown away trash to find private information about someone. He or she may steal checks out of a person’s mailbox. Skimming is the process of using a special device when scanning another person’s card. A person may provide his or her card to wait staff or a store clerk who then gets this information for criminal purposes.

Technological ways also help identity thieves. A thief may send spam to try to get the person to provide their personal information through a phishing scheme. An identity thief may also use false pretenses in order to get the person to reveal personal information, such as pretending to be part of the victim’s bank, credit card company or other account. After an identity thief gets a credit card or other benefit on behalf of the victim, he or she may then change the victim’s address so communications regarding the account go somewhere else.

White collar crimes

However, in some cases, individuals may ignorantly comply with the requests of an undercover agent in a way that they would not without the involvement and encouragement of law enforcement. A common defense to an allegation of a white collar crime is that of entrapment.

Entrapment Definition

Entrapment occurs when officers or other government agents induce another person through their actions to commit a crime that had not been contemplated by that person in an attempt to eventually prosecute the person for the offense.

Elements of Entrapment

Although the prosecution has the duty to establish that the criminal defendant committed each element of the crime, entrapment is considered an affirmative defense. It does not prevent the prosecution from bringing forth the charges against the defendant. A defendant who alleges entrapment must prove a number of things, including that the government agent approached the defendant and was the one who introduced the idea of the crime. Additionally, the defendant must establish that he or she was not willing to commit the crime and only did so because the law enforcement agent acted in a coercive or otherwise improper manner.

Objective or Subjective Standard

The defendant often has a heightened burden to show that law enforcement’s actions would have induced any other law-abiding citizen to commit the crime or that the defendant lacked the predisposition to commit the crime. The standard which applies depends on whether the state uses an objective or subjective standard according to its own state law.
In an objective standard state, the defendant has to show that the actions of law enforcement would have caused any law-abiding citizen to commit a crime. With this standard, the emphasis of the case is on the law enforcement agent’s conduct and how it was extreme in nature.

In states that use a subjective standard, the question is whether the defendant had a predisposition to commit the crime in question or not. This is considered regardless of police actions. This standard focuses more on the defendant. Ultimately, the jury is tasked with determining whether the police officer’s conduct solely motivated the defendant or if his or her own predisposition was what drove the commission of the crime even if police actions were extreme or inappropriate.

Burden of Proof

In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proving the elements by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant has the burden of showing entrapment by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not the way that the defendant alleges. Even if the defendant can establish entrapment, the defendant may not be entitled to a finding of not guilty. For example, in states that use the subjective standard, the jury must then determine whether the defendant committed the crime due to his or her own predisposition rather than because of police actions.

Subject to an additional penalty

If a person uses a weapon while committing another crime, he or she may be placing the health and safety of other individuals at risk. Due to this, a crime that is committed with a weapon often incurs severe penalties for the person accused of the crime.

Sentence Enhancements

A person who uses a weapon during the commission of another crime may find that he or she is subject to a sentence enhancement. Such an enhancement has the effect of adding time onto a person’s original sentence. Weapons may be used to help facilitate a variety of crimes, including sex crimes, kidnapping, assault, battery, burglary, drug crimes, robbery and burglary. When these crimes are committed with the help of a weapon, the individual may receive one sentence based on the crime itself and additional punishment based on the presence of a weapon. For example, if a person robbed a bank while in possession of a handgun, having the gun at the time of the crime will likely have a serious effect on the person’s sentence in comparison to if the person did not have the weapon at the time of committing the crime.

For a sentence enhancement to apply, it is not always necessary that a person use the weapon during the crime. For example, he or she may have simply shown the weapon in order to make the victim comply or to make him or her afraid.

Weapon Charges

There are a variety of weapon charges that a person may commit besides receiving an enhanced penalty by using the weapon in conjunction with a crime. Weapons are heavily regulated by federal and state laws, especially guns. A person may be charged with a separate criminal charge for being a felon in possession of a gun. Failing to register a gun may be another possible crime that stands alone by itself.

Failing to register a weapon may be another type of crime that a criminal defendant is found to have committed. Selling drugs while carrying a gun can be a stand-alone offense.

Many states allow concealing a weapon so a person may be penalized if he or she has a concealed weapon. The state may have a specific license or permit that can be acquired to carry a weapon in such a nature, but if the person does not follow this protocol, he or she may be in troubled legal waters if he or she is found to have not followed these rules.

Deadly Weapon

One of the most common criminal charges related to weapon use or possession is assault by a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon can often be more than just the obvious types of weapons that criminals use, such as a gun or knife. It may be defined under state law as any object that could inflict serious bodily harm or death. Based on this broader definition, a deadly weapon may include a hammer, frying pan or sword.

Effect of Sentence Enhancement

Having a firearm or other weapon during the time another crime is committed can cause significant consequences. A criminal defendant may be subject to stricter penalties when a weapon is involved in the crime. In some cases, a weapon enhancement may double the amount of time that a person is sentenced to.

Legal Assistance

It is critical when facing a weapon enhancement to consult with a qualified lawyer who can carefully evaluate the circumstances surrounding the case and the potential punishments that are on the line. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer may evaluate the case for possible procedural errors or police misconduct that may influence the case or the evidence that is admitted.

A criminal defense lawyer can explain the defendant’s rights to him or her so that he or she can make an informed decision about the case. A lawyer can explain whether illegal search or seizure was involved in the case, which may provide grounds to have evidence thrown out of the case. A criminal defense lawyer can evaluate possible options related to defenses for a weapon-related offense, such as showing that the weapon did not belong to the defendant or that the defendant was not aware of its proximity.

Involves some type of fraud or deception

Sociologist and criminology expert Edwin Sutherland first coined this term in a speech that he delivered in 1939. According to Sutherland, someone is more likely to commit a crime when he or she is surrounded by criminal behavior as observed by those around him or her. Sutherland’s belief is that white collar criminals should not be punished as harshly as other criminals. He based this belief on the notion that white collar criminals are typically considered less dangerous. They are believed to be less likely of recidivism. For these reasons, he lobbied for more lenient sentences for individuals convicted of these types of crimes.

Modern Definition

Today’s definition includes the traditional definition that incorporates crimes committed by business professionals through their chosen profession. White collar crimes also include fraud and embezzlement. They may include such crimes as wire fraud, mail fraud, insurance fraud, bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and bribery.

Characteristics of White Collar Criminals

This crime is dubbed as white collar due to the professional standing of the perpetrator. These individuals often have a respected position in the community, such as a money manager, financial planner, banker, accountant or similar field.
They often occupy a place of higher socioeconomic status than many criminal defendants. Due to this characteristic, these types of criminals often have the ability to pay more for their defense, which often results in greater outcomes for these defendants than for others who have to rely on overworked public defenders. Having a higher salary and income level often translates into being able to hire the best and most expensive lawyers who will zealously fight for their interests in court. In contrast, individuals who are part of a lower socioeconomic level may not be able to afford a private lawyer and may be appointed a lawyer.

Effects of White Collar Crimes

While white collar crimes may not result in the same type of physical injuries as other crimes may, they may still result in significant consequences. If the money cannot be recovered, a business may go out of business. Employees may be terminated to make up for the loss of business funds. Individuals may lose their life savings because the retirement funds that they had invested were tied up in a Ponzi scheme unbeknownst to them.

Potential Punishments

Many people believe that white collar crimes should not be punished as harshly as crimes committed by people that involve violence like burglary, mugging or robbery. However, as discussed above, the effects of white collar crimes are real and can be devastating in nature. This means that when white collar criminals are convicted that they often receive sentences as long as the sentences that violent offenders receive. Many drug crimes are prosecuted by federal prosecutors and so are many white collar crimes.

However, one significant difference that may exist between the punishments that white collar criminals receive and others receive is that the white collar criminal may be locked up in minimum-security prisons. In these prisons, criminals may have greater freedoms like access to cable television, the internet and the outside. Criminals in maximum security prisons are often subject to less safe prison environments.

A person’s status in the community and prior criminal record are often considered at sentencing, which may provide a basis to give a white collar criminal less time than a hardened criminal.

Legal Assistance

Individuals who are charged with white collar crimes may decide to contact a criminal defense lawyer experienced in this area of the law. He or she may be able to explain the defendant’s rights to him or her and get involved in the process well before any formal charges are filed. This may allow a criminal defense lawyer to negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor that may prevent charges from ever being filed, such as allowing the defendant to pay restitution to the victims. The punishments that a white collar criminal defendant can face are substantial. Federal prosecutors are often intimidating. A criminal defense lawyer can help protect the defendant’s rights.