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Identity Theft & Fraud Defence Lawyers in Ottawa

Identity Theft Charges Defended by Ottawa Criminal Lawyers

As Ottawans navigate the expanding online realm, identity theft has become a prevalent concern. This crime involves the unauthorized use of personal information, often obtained through techniques like phishing. Individuals may remain oblivious to the theft until unusual financial activities, such as unrecognized credit card transactions, come to light.

Whether the motivation is financial gain or other objectives, identity theft constitutes a serious white-collar crime. If you find yourself accused of such actions, understanding the legal implications is crucial. Seeking the expertise of a criminal lawyer specializing in white-collar crimes can guide you through the complexities, ensuring a robust defence against allegations of identity theft.

What is Identify Theft?

Identity theft, also known as impersonation or the offence of personation, is a criminal act involving the fraudulent appropriation of someone else’s identity. As outlined in Section 403 of the Criminal Code of Canada, this offense encompasses various deceptive actions, such as intentionally personating a living or deceased person. The motivations behind identity theft can include:

  • gaining advantages,
  • acquiring property,
  • causing harm to the person being impersonated, or
  • attempting to avoid arrest, prosecution, or obstruct the course of justice.

The offence of impersonating a person involves not only pretending to be them but also using their identity information, either in isolation or in conjunction with details related to other individuals. Understanding the nuances of this offense is crucial in navigating legal complexities surrounding identity theft accusations.

What is the offence of Identity theft?

The offence of identity theft, as explained in subsection 402.2(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, involves the acquisition or possession of someone else’s “identity information.” This act must be done with the intent to deploy this information in the commission of an indictable offence that encompasses elements like fraud, deceit, or falsehood.

The term “identity information” is meticulously defined in section 402.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada. It encompasses any information, including biological or physiological details, commonly used alone or in conjunction with other data to identify an individual. This can include fingerprints, a DNA profile, the identification number on a government-issued card (such as a driver’s license), or a password. Understanding these legal intricacies is essential in comprehending the scope and implications of the offence of identity theft under Canadian law.

What Information Do Identity Thieves Target in Identity Theft?

Thieves involved in identity theft relentlessly pursue a spectrum of personal information to facilitate unauthorized access to accounts and resources in the victim’s name. The targeted information encompasses:

  • Online user names and passwords
  • Name, address, and telephone numbers
  • Date of birth
  • Credit card numbers
  • Bank account details
  • PIN numbers
  • Birth certificate details
  • Passport number
  • Driver’s licence
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)

What are the penalties for identity theft in Ontario?

In Ontario, penalties for identity theft are outlined in Subsection 403(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada:

  • (a) Indictable Offence: Those convicted may face imprisonment for up to 10 years.
  • (b) Summary Conviction: Alternatively, the offence is punishable on summary conviction.

The severity of the sentence hinges on the impact of identity fraud on the complainant. The more significant the consequences, the harsher the sentence. Factors like the complexity and expenses incurred by the complainant in reclaiming their identity are weighed by the court during sentencing.

Sentencing Profile:

  • Maximum Penalties:
    • s. 402.2 Summary Election: 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine
    • s. 402.2 Indictable Election: Up to 5 years incarceration

Minimum Penalties:

  • No mandatory minimum penalties are specified for these offences. Understanding these distinctions is crucial when navigating the legal landscape of identity theft penalties in Ontario.

What Is the Penalty for Trafficking In “Identity Information”?

The criminal offence of trafficking in “identity information” is delineated in subsection 402.2(2). This section states that an individual is deemed to commit an offence if they transmit, make available, distribute, sell, or offer for sale someone else’s identity information. Possessing such information for any of these purposes is also an offence. The crucial element lies in the knowledge or recklessness regarding the potential use of this information for an indictable offence involving fraud, deceit, or falsehood.

Are You Facing an Identity Theft Charges in Ottawa?

We have successfully represented clients facing charges of both digital and non-digital identity theft/fraud. In digital cases, scrutiny of the Crown’s evidence is crucial. For instance, in cases of online identity theft, reliance on Internet Protocol (IP) addresses is common. However, multiple users with access to the identified computer can challenge the sole identification of my client as a suspect. As defence lawyer, our task is to ensure a robust link between our client and the crime, given that an IP address merely connects to a specific location, susceptible to shared access.

In cases where parties meet in person, like setting up a false bank account, identifying the suspect becomes challenging over time. Signatures used as evidence need meticulous examination to establish a concrete link to the alleged offender. Our approach involves dissecting the evidence to safeguard the rights of my clients throughout the legal process.

If you have been charged with identity theft and require legal assistance, contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation.

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