What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Identity Theft

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Because of the increase in identity theft crimes in recent years, Congress passed a law that made identity theft a federal crime. Another law called Theft Penalty Enhancement Act followed to increase penalties for aggravated identity theft with an additional 2 years sentence for general offenses and another 5 years for terrorism-related offenses.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft or identity fraud refers to all types of crimes where a person’s personal data is wrongfully obtained and used for fraud or deception for purposes of economic gain. For example, a person finds your lost wallet that contains important information on your tax records or Social Security numbers and other sensitive information and then uses the information to open a credit card under your name.

The misuse of another person’s identifying information like personal or financial information is considered identity theft. Using the internet to search for personal and financial information is now rampant making it a federal crime. Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, identity theft constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.

Victims of identity theft are often clueless until they apply for a loan or when strange charges appear in the credit card billing statements. There are also instances when personal and financial information are revealed through security breaches at banks or companies that you do business with. While prevention is still the best policy, identity theft can happen even to the most prepared individuals.

If your personal and financial information falls into the wrong hands, they can profit at your expense. An identity thief can be investigated and prosecuted by law enforcement and federal agencies but victims do not usually receive restitution for the harm and loss incurred. You can seek help from law enforcement to help make an Identity Theft Report and remove fraudulent debts from your credit card.

You can also seek the assistance of Donich Law for a personal recovery plan. Since identity fraud laws vary from state to state, it is important to seek advice from a lawyer who knows the laws in your state so that you can be absolved from any criminal liability arising from the use of your personal and financial information.

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Can A Defendant Withdraw A Guilty Plea?

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Many defendants to a criminal case and their lawyers accept a plea-bargaining agreement because of the lighter sentence. A plea-bargaining agreement usually results in lesser time in jail. The case is resolved more quickly to avoid the time and expense of a court trial. The best advice will usually come from an experienced criminal defence lawyer.

However, there are instances wherein the accused regrets pleading guilty to the crime because he believes that he got a raw deal. The question here is whether the courts will allow the withdrawal of the plea.

A guilty plea can be withdrawn when it has not yet been accepted by the judge. Defendants who have pleaded guilty can get out of the deal if they have not yet been sentenced particularly when the judge rejects the negotiated agreement that the defendant has pleaded to.

There are also some plea deals where the defendant has to waive the right to make an appeal. Undoing a plea in these circumstances can be quite difficult. Once the judge has sentenced the defendant, the odds of withdrawing from the plea deal can be tough even if a waiver is made. The trial judge will only set aside the conviction and allow a defendant to withdraw his plea if there is an obvious injustice.

There are common scenarios where the judge approves a withdrawal of a plea.

  • The defendant is psychologically challenged, intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol so that he cannot intelligently decide to plead guilty.
  • The defendant’s legal counsel failed to advice his client as to the serious ramifications of the guilty plea like deportation for an immigrant.
  • The defendant did not consent to the guilty plea that his lawyer entered on his behalf
  • There appears to be a viable chance if the case goes to trial
  • The defendant was denied one of his constitutional rights which is the right to legal counsel

It is important for a defendant to call Donich Law before pleading guilty to a crime. An experienced criminal defence lawyer will analyse the pros and cons of the plea-bargaining agreement so that the defendant will understand the ramifications of his decision.

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