Technology has changed the nature of crime in Miami over the past few decades. For example, according to the Miami FBI chief, identity theft has grown exponentially in recent years. Considering the increased prevalence of these crimes, one can expect many more Miami residents to face ID theft related charges than ever before.
Miami Leading the Nation in ID Theft
Miami has the highest rate of identity theft of any metropolitan area in the nation. In 2012, there were over 35,000 complaints about ID theft, which doubled from 2011, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The same year there were over 12 million reported incidents of identity theft across the United States. The number of incidents of identity theft is predicted to continue to rise in Florida. The state also leads the nation in the number of theft of government benefits, including theft of tax returns. There were 69,000 reported complaints of theft of government benefits in 2012.
Observers believe that Florida is a hot-bed for these crimes because of the demographics of the state. The large elderly population and the high number of individuals on Medicare make area residents a prime target for these offenses.
Identity Theft Charges in Miami
Local residents may face any number of different criminal charges stemming from identity theft. In virtually all of the cases, however, the potential penalties for conviction are stiff. Some of the most common ID theft related crimes include:
– Obtaining Property by False Pretense – Otherwise known as “larceny,” this crime refers to using another’s identification to obtain property. Filling out information on applications using another’s information can lead to these charges.
– Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information – A similar crime, the state statute specifically lists the identifying information that can lead to these charges, including using another’s name, date of birth, driver licenses number, or even mother’s maiden name. There are different degrees of this crime, with more severe penalties when the information is used to obtain large amount of property or involves a larger numbers of people.
Defending Against ID Theft Charges
Considering the recognition of the Miami area as a problematic spot for these crimes, state and federal officials will undoubtedly be cracking down on suspected ID thieves. Unfortunately, lawmakers often overreach when dealing with suspected criminals–violating constitutional rights and otherwise failing to treat suspects fairly. At other times, innocent parties can be arrested. It is not uncommon to make mistakes on applications or not know when using information from others breaks the law.
For these reasons, if you or someone you know is facing ID theft charges, be sure to seek out experienced legal help immediately. An attorney can analyze the specifics of your case to determine if authorities acted properly when collecting evidence against you. If so, the information obtained may not be used against you. At other times, advocates can work with prosecutors to obtain favorable plea bargains to avoid the harsher penalties and allow you to move on with you life as quickly as possible.