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Savannah Identity Theft Attorney

Many identity theft convictions start out as someone engaging in unintentional or supposedly “harmless” acts, such as pretending to be someone else online, as a prank, or through a false ID. Unfortunately, the law can catch up with them before they realize they’re doing something illegal. If you’re facing identity theft charges in Georgia, contact Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C. Our Savannah criminal lawyers put their experience on both sides of the courtroom to use for exceptional criminal defense strategies.

Georgia’s Identify Theft laws

Georgia’s laws refer to identity theft as “identity fraud.” The state has extensive statutes regarding the topic of identity fraud. In essence, identity theft involves taking someone else’s identity and using it to commit deceitful acts. A “deceitful act” can involve stealing from the victim, opening bank accounts, or selling personal information. Identity fraud is a felony in Georgia if the defendant “intentionally and fraudulently” commits any of the following:

  • Possesses or uses someone else’s identity without the person’s permission and with the intent to commit fraud
  • Uses a minor’s (under the age of 18) identifying information if that minor is in the user’s custody
  • Possesses or uses a deceased person’s identity with the intent to commit fraud
  • Possesses, uses, or creates identifying information for a person who does not exist, with the intent to use the identity to commit fraud or another crime
  • Possesses, uses, or creates false or counterfeit identifying information for a real person with the intent to commit fraud or another crime
  • Knowingly accepts false, counterfeit, or stolen information to use for identification purposes

It is not identity theft to steal, use, or create someone else’s identifying information for the purpose of purchasing or drinking alcoholic beverages as a minor in the state of Georgia. However, the state’s underage drinking laws will apply to these situations. An alleged breaking of any of Georgia’s identity fraud laws could be detrimental to a defendant.

Consequences for Identity Fraud in Georgia

If found breaking Georgia’s identity fraud laws, you could face serious penalties. The Georgia Attorney General or a local attorney can prosecute a person for alleged identity fraud. A conviction could come with up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. Second offenses come with a prison sentence of three to 15 years and/or fines of up to $250,000. It’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you avoid these life-changing penalties.

Georgia has an additional statute dealing with “aggravated identity fraud.” This crime describes intentionally and fraudulently using fake identifying information about a person (real, deceased, or fictitious) to get a job. Identifying information for employment purposes can include a Social Security number, birth date, or driver’s license number. Aggravated identity fraud is a felony crime in Georgia, punishable with a minimum of one year to a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

Federal Identity Theft Cases

State governments are not the only ones involved in investigating and prosecuting alleged cases of identity theft. It is a federal crime that can result in related charges. The most common federal agencies responsible for prosecuting people for identity theft are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Secret Service, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Postal Inspection Service.

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 expanded federal laws relating to identity theft and fraud. It made identity theft a crime against the individual, rather than just a crime against a bank or financial institution. It also increased criminal consequences for identity theft convictions and closed one loophole that had previously not classified stealing someone else’s identifying information as a crime (only producing or possessing false information).

A conviction for identity theft in a federal court carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, as well as substantial fines. Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C. can represent defendants involved in federal identity theft cases in the Savannah, Georgia area. Our lawyers aren’t afraid to stand up on behalf of their clients in a federal courtroom; we can help you no matter how serious the charges are against you, and regardless of whether you’re facing state or federal charges.

Common Examples of Illegal Identity Theft

Some people aren’t exactly sure what does and does not qualify as identity theft or fraud in Georgia. While reviewing the law can help clarify the state’s definition of identity fraud, real-world examples are useful in differentiating criminal and non-criminal acts. Not all situations involving someone else’s identity or even stolen information may qualify as illegal in Georgia. The following acts, however, could result in criminal charges:

  • Falsely representing oneself (e.g., as the IRS or a salesperson) to trick someone into giving identifying information
  • Illegally obtaining identifying information and using it to defraud someone
  • Activating someone else’s pre-approved credit card without his/her consent
  • Intercepting and redirecting someone else’s mail to another location
  • Taking another person’s credit card with the intent of using it or selling it
  • Forging a fake credit card with the intent to defraud

Examples of identity theft and fraud are almost endless, especially due to advances in digital ways to possess and use identifying information. If you’re nervous about an identity-related act you recently committed, consultations with our attorneys are always 100% confidential. We can let you know if you might be in danger of a criminal charge in Georgia. If already facing criminal charges, we’ll review your case and help you come up with potential defense strategies moving forward.

Possible Defenses for Identity Theft Charges

The legal team at Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C. has years of experience representing criminal defendants throughout Georgia. We have helped clients facing all kinds of criminal charges, including those involving identity theft and identity fraud. We know the applicable laws inside and out and can help you come up with the ideal legal strategy for your defense. You can have peace of mind despite criminal charges against you with our aggressive representation. Potential defenses to identity theft include:

  • Lack of intent. Most identity fraud convictions hinge on the prosecution’s ability to prove that the defendant had intent to commit fraud when he or she took possession of or used someone else’s identifying information. It may be possible to prove that you did not intend to commit fraud, or at least to refute the prosecution’s evidence of intent.
  • Permission to have or use the information. In the event that someone has mistakenly accused you of identity theft when in reality you possessed the information with the person’s permission, this is a sound defense. For example, if police arrest you in a Savannah shopping mall for using a friend’s credit card, even though your friend gave you consent to use the card.
  • Lawful obtainment of the information. According to Georgia law, it is not identity fraud if you lawfully obtained someone’s credit card information for use in a commercial transaction. It is also not fraud if you’re a creditor acting in good faith with the financial information.

In the event that it isn’t possible to convince the courts to drop the charges against you, we can potentially negotiate a satisfactory plea deal to significantly reduce the charges and penalties you will face. We might be able to reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor or help in other ways by showing that you have a clean prior record, you didn’t mean to harm the victim, there wasn’t a lot of money involved, or through other strategies. Contact us to hear potential options for your unique situation.

What to Look for in Your Defense Attorney

The skill of your Georgia criminal defense attorney can make an enormous difference in the outcome of your identity theft case. It is crucial to retain a lawyer who truly has your best interests at heart – not one who is just going through the motions. Choosing the best defense attorney in Savannah for your case can be difficult, but it’s important to take the time to research a firm before signing on as a client. Look for the following traits in your defense attorney:

  1. Experience helping people like you. Look through a law firm’s practice areas and past trial experience. Search for a lawyer who has years of experience handling criminal cases in your local area, as well as with identity fraud cases in particular. Trial experience is a must if you want a lawyer you can feel confident in.
  2. Local knowledge of the laws and courtrooms. Go with a defense attorney in the local Savannah area for knowledge of county-specific laws and statutes. An attorney in your community might also know the local police officers and judges, giving you an advantage in the courtroom.
  3. Personal attention to clients. You have to feel comfortable with the defense attorney you choose. From your first conversation with the lawyer, you should get the sense that he or she truly cares about your case. Look for passionate, honest, and trustworthy lawyers with positive client testimonials.
  4. Professionalism and expertise. Your defense lawyer should treat you and your case with the utmost respect, professionalism, and confidentiality. If at any time you suspect your attorney of legal malpractice or bad faith, petition the courts for permission to get new representation immediately. The wrong lawyer could destroy your case.
  5. A little something extra. Clients trust the lawyers at Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C. because we’ve been on both sides of the courtroom. The fact that our lead attorneys are former prosecutors set us apart from the competition. Our unique perspective on the criminal justice system can give you the edge you need during an identity theft case.

While a public defender can be the cheaper option for criminal defense, it is often not ideal for defendants facing charges as serious as felony identity theft. Instead, go with a private lawyer from Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C. Our defense attorneys have a national reputation for excellence and a history of outstanding client results. We’ll work with you to come up with a strategy that works for your case, your budget, and your future.

Schedule a Free Criminal Defense Consultation in Savannah Today

Identity theft is a big deal in Georgia. Do not go up against the prosecution alone or with a lawyer that you only halfway trust to defend your rights. Give yourself your absolute best chance at getting through the legal system unscathed – or at least with the least possible ramifications on your life and freedom. To fight allegations of a crime as serious as identity fraud, you need the best legal team in Savannah. You need Jarrett Maillet J.D., P.C.

Our lawyers represent clients throughout coastal South Georgia who are facing even the most serious criminal accusations. We work vigilantly to protect clients’ rights during all aspects of a criminal case, from the day of arrest all the way to the final trial. We have what it takes to get the best possible results for our criminal defense clients in Savannah, using defense strategies proven to work.

Find out if we can help you fight identity theft charges in Georgia. Call (912) 713-3426 for a free, completely confidential legal consultation. You can also submit an inquiry online with a brief message and we’ll contact you as soon as possible about your case.