Defending Against Identity Theft Charges in Massachusetts

February 24, 2024 by Anthony Riccio

Navigating identity fraud laws in Massachusetts is vital for those accused of this crime. Explore the legal implications and potential consequences of these charges. Find out how expert legal guidance can help individuals facing identity theft and fraud charges.

  • Identity fraud in Massachusetts involves using someone else’s identity for fraudulent purposes.
  • The legal elements of identity fraud include impersonation, lack of consent, intent to deceive, and obtaining something of value.
  • If convicted of identity theft, individuals may face high fines and considerable jail time. In addition to charges at the state level, under certain conditions, an individual may face federal charges related to identity theft.
  • Defenses against identity theft include authorization, lack of intent, mistaken identity, insufficient evidence, and issues with the case’s integrity.
  • Related offenses include forgery and uttering false records.
  • Seeking help from an experienced attorney is essential when facing identity fraud charges. An attorney can help accused individuals understand their legal options and defend them in court proceedings. 
Aspect Importance
Identity fraud definition Unauthorized use of personal information
Legal elements of identity fraud Impersonation, lack of consent, intent to deceive
Consequences of identity theft charges Severe fines, jail time, federal charges
Defenses against identity theft charges Authorization, lack of intent, mistaken identity
Related offenses  Forgery and uttering false records
Importance of seeking legal advice Expert guidance in navigating identity fraud cases

What are the consequences of identity theft charges in Massachusetts?

Under state law, people accused of identity theft in Massachusetts may face fines of up to $5,000, up to 2.5 years in prison, or both. 

Why is getting help from an experienced attorney necessary in criminal cases involving identity theft?

Seeking assistance from an experienced attorney is crucial to mounting a strong defense, navigating complex legal issues, and protecting the rights of the accused when facing identity fraud charges.

What is Identity Fraud in Massachusetts?

Chapter 266 Section 37E of the Massachusetts General Laws governs identity fraud. 

Identity fraud encompasses a variety of offenses related to the use of someone else’s personal identifying information without their consent to fraudulently obtain something of value. 

To secure a conviction on the charge of identity fraud in Massachusetts, a prosecutor would have to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did the following: 

  1. Pretended to be someone else;
  2. Took action without the express consent of the person whose identity they used;
  3. Either obtained or attempted to obtain something of value or harassed another person;
  4. In doing so, intended to defraud or deceive others.

What constitutes a gain of something of value in Massachusetts includes but is not limited to the following: 

  • Cash 
  • Credit 
  • Products
  • Services 
  • An identity card that uses another individual’s identifying information 

Identity theft charges are frequently directly connected to credit card, immigration, and employment fraud. Identity theft increasingly involves using technology to access others’ personal identifying information and carry out the crime.

Generally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would have to demonstrate that the accused person fraudulently represented themselves as someone else, directly or indirectly, without their consent. To represent themselves as someone else, the accused will have used one or more of a variety of forms of personal identification of that person, such as: 

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number 
  • Credit card number 
  • Password

What Are the Consequences of Identity Theft In Massachusetts?

Identity theft is a serious crime in Massachusetts, regardless of how the accused allegedly used the fraudulent identity. Under state law, using someone else’s identity for any purpose is illegal. However, the consequences are far more severe when an individual is accused of using a fake or fraudulent identity to commit a crime. 

Individuals found guilty of identity theft in Massachusetts could face thousands of dollars in fines, years of jail time, and other lifelong consequences.

State law allows people convicted of identity fraud in Massachusetts to face the following penalties:

  • Monetary fines of up to $5,000
  • Imprisonment for a duration of up to 2.5 years 

Penalties for identity fraud aren’t limited to fines or jail time. The state permits convicted offenders to face both fines and imprisonment.

Identity Theft May Be a Federal Crime 

State laws and penalties may not be the only concern for an individual accused of identity fraud. Identity theft is frequently prosecuted as a federal offense.

Facing federal charges may mean confronting additional penalties. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1028A of federal law, which deals with aggravated identity theft, the accused may face a two-year term of imprisonment if convicted of using someone else’s identity to commit a felony or a five-year term if convicted of a terrorism offense. These prison terms don’t count the jail time a person is sentenced to in connection with the offense for which they allegedly used a fraudulent identity. 

Identity Theft In Massachusetts 

Not all alleged identity theft instances in Massachusetts necessarily give rise to federal charges. However, one doesn’t have to be tried for identity theft at the federal level to face serious consequences.

Even at the state level, crimes like identity theft and identity fraud may be strictly prosecuted and punished harshly. That’s true of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and certain other states.

Individuals charged with identity theft at the state level only in Massachusetts could still suffer fines of thousands of dollars and go to jail for as long as two and a half years. Being charged with identity theft is life-altering, even if no federal charges are filed.

Defenses Against Identity Theft 

Individuals charged with identity theft or fraud in Massachusetts or at the federal level need to know that charges do not equal a conviction. There are some possible defenses against charges of identity theft. By skillfully employing such defenses and backing up these arguments with evidence, the accused’s defense attorney can minimize the penalties for the offense or convince a jury to acquit the individual facing charges. 

Among the defenses used in charges of identity theft include the following: 

  • The accused was authorized to use someone else’s bank or identity card. 
  • The accused had no idea that they were impersonating someone else. 
  • The accused did not intend to exploit the other person’s identity for illegal or fraudulent activities. 
  • Police misconduct or chain of evidence interruptions compromised the integrity of the case against the accused. 

A traditional defense of mistaken identity is that the person accused of the crime did not steal the victim’s identity. To convict the accused, the prosecution would need to establish that theft happened and/or that the accused committed the act. 

Suppose no proof exists to tie the individual mistaken for someone else to illegally acquire or use the other person’s identifying information. In that case, there may not be sufficient evidence to convict the person facing identity theft charges.

Related Offenses 

Identity theft or fraud may not be the only charges the accused faces. In Massachusetts, two of the offenses most closely related to identity fraud include: 

An experienced defense lawyer can help individuals accused of identity theft, forgery, counterfeiting, and other crimes build a defense that affords them the best possible chance of a favorable outcome. 

Why Getting Help From an Experienced Attorney Is Necessary

Consulting an experienced attorney is essential when facing identity theft charges. 

Having a legal professional on one’s side during a criminal case can protect the accused’s legal rights. Drawing upon their expert guidance, the attorneys at Riccio Law can build a strong defense for their clients. 

Defendants who cannot figure out their legal options without skilled, dedicated defense attorneys may struggle to understand and preserve their rights. Without extensive knowledge of law and the legal system, they may have difficulty crafting a compelling argument in their favor. Their financial well-being and even their freedom could be at risk. 

In Summary

Understanding identity fraud laws in Massachusetts is crucial when accused of this offense. Recognize the legal elements, potential consequences, available defenses, and related offenses. 

For those accused of identity theft, the first step toward safeguarding their legal rights is to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney.

Contact Us at Riccio Law

If you are facing identity fraud charges in Massachusetts, contact Riccio Law for expert legal assistance. Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the legal complexities, build a strong defense, and protect your rights.