Crimes involving identity have become significant since September 11, 2001. After that fateful attack on America, New Jersey and many other States tightened laws involving identity. The changes especially affect young people, under the age of twenty one, who acquire fake driver’s licenses. The manufacture of fake identification documents is a second degree crime. A conviction will require a mandatory prison term. Simply possessing fake identification and using it to enter a bar to drink can be charged as a felony. A young person can easily acquire a criminal arrest record. Unless the case is carefully resolved, and the record expunged, a criminal record, known as a rap sheet, becomes a permanent part of his or her record.
Allegations involving the unlawful use of another’s credit card or other identification can lead to charges of third and fourth degree crimes and a criminal record.
In cases involving identity theft, a criminal defense lawyer must concentrate his investigation on the proof that the accused person actually committed the crime. Unless the accused gives a confession to the police, it can be difficult to prove identity. All criminal defendants enjoy the Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege against self incrimination. Therefore, whether the accused is actually guilty may not be the issue. Since a person cannot be forced to testify and possibly incriminate himself, the question for the client and attorney to consider is whether the client can actually be proven to have committed the identity crime charged.
An area of inquiry in many cases involving identity is whether the use of a credit card or false identification was videotaped by a bank, supermarket, department store, bar or in a public venue.
Unquestionably, identity is a crucial issue in a variety of cases. Careful and thorough analysis is of critical importance when representing people charged with crimes involving proof of identity, false identity, or the misuse of another’s identity.