We spend more time than ever online these days. We bank, buy, sell, and invest online, and as a result, our identification and our financial information is readily available and hackable. There are sites where personal information can be bought and sold. Identity theft in Oklahoma is a growing problem, one that state law is trying to address more vigorously. Here is what you need to know if you are facing charges for identity theft in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Identity Theft Defined
Oklahoma has a number of statutes on the books that cover identity theft.
Identity theft in Oklahoma is defined as:
- willfully and with fraudulent intent
- obtaining another person’s personal information such as
- name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, employment,
- debit or credit account numbers, driver’s license number, or
- any other personal identifying information, for
- the purpose of obtaining money, credit, goods, services or
- the like without the consent of the other person.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1533.1
The statute also prohibits a number of other acts that relate directly to identity theft, including using that personal information to obtain credit or anything else of value; willfully creating or changing a person’s identifying information with the intent to fraudulently obtain money, goods, or anything of value without consent; or giving or selling that information to anyone else.
If convicted, a person could face one to five years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.
In addition, the court may order you to pay restitution to the victim and the victim may bring a civil action against you for damages. A victim can obtain monetary damages in a civil suit that you may never be able to pay off.
Obtaining Information From Banks And Other Financial Institutions
Likewise, it is against Oklahoma law to willfully and knowingly obtain — or attempt to obtain — another person’s personal, financial or other information by making a false or fraudulent statement to any officer, employee, agent, or customer of a financial institution. That includes willfully and knowingly presenting any false information or document to a financial information in order to obtain that information or commit another crime. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1533.2
This crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In addition, the court may order restitution to be paid by the defendant to every customer whose information was so obtained.
Some Possible Defenses
If you are facing charges for identity theft, it is important that you explore possible defenses with your Muskogee attorney. Every fact can be important when exploring defenses. Here are some more common defenses to begin that discussion with your attorney
Lack Of Intent. Identity theft crimes require a willful and knowing intent to defraud. Intent can be a difficult thing to prove.
In this case, a prosecutor must prove a person’s state of mind while that person was obtaining another’s personal information. Sometimes a person makes this admission when being questioned by the police or on the witness stand.
But more often, a prosecutor will try to prove intent through circumstantial evidence such as emails, admissions by the defendant, and the like. The weaker the connection between the evidence and the intent, the more open that evidence is to attack.
Permission. If a person has permission from the person whose information is being sought, there is no crime. The crime only occurs in the absence of permission.
Sometimes, a defendant reasonably believes that they have permission or that they are acting within the scope of the permission granted, even when permission does not extend to the information being sought. This defense is particularly fact-bound and even the smallest of facts may be important.
Mistake. There are situations in which a person makes a genuine mistake.
Let’s say a person makes a mistake entering account number digits when purchasing items online. The numbers may be interposed or a single digit is off. Another person’s account may be charged, but it was done through a mistake, not through any evil intent.
Information Was Never Used For A Wrongful Purpose. Merely obtaining the information, but not using it for an illegal purpose, is a defense to identity theft. However, if the prosecution can prove that you had the intent to use that information at a later point in time, the defense may not be viable.
Explain the facts of your case to criminal lawyers in Muskogee, Ok., not to the police. And remember that what seems to you like a trivial fact may make a big difference in your defense.
Free Consultation: Muskogee Felony Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, you need help to build a solid defense. Even small facts can make a big difference. Don’t try to go it alone. Get the help you need when it matters most.
Our experienced attorneys are here to help. We know your freedom is important and will work with you to preserve it. Our attorneys know how to build a strong defense.
Call a Muskogee felony defense attorney today at 918-884-7774 to ask questions or schedule a free, confidential consultation.