If you’re facing identity theft charges in a California court, chances are, a series of events led to your arrest. The law typically categorizes this type of offense as a white-collar crime. If you learn that you are the subject of an official investigation, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will face charges, or if you do, that the court will hand down a conviction.

In any event, it’s always in your best interest to understand exactly what prosecutors are accusing you of if you wind up facing arrest on suspicion of stolen identity. Do you know your rights? Do you know how to access support to help you try to avoid conviction? The answers to these questions may greatly impact the ultimate outcome of your situation.

First things first: What is identity theft?

In California and most other states, if you misuse another person’s private information regarding identification, police may arrest you for identity theft. Accusation never constitutes guilt, however, so the law presumes your innocence unless the prosecution proves otherwise. The following facts explain more about identity theft as a white-collar crime:

  • Prosecutors must prove that you wrongfully obtained another party’s personal information.
  • That’s still not enough to convict you of white-collar crime, though. They would also need to show that you misused the information, without permission, in order to profit financially.
  • Let’s say a police officer pulls you over in a traffic stop. Perhaps the officer searches your car and finds another person’s credit card and a department store receipt. Maybe your friend accidentally left the card and receipt in your vehicle, yet the officer might think you stole it.
  • The federal government criminalized identity theft in 1998.
  • California and other states have their own laws regarding stolen identities, but federal law always takes precedence over state law.

The bottom line is that state and federal law guarantees your right to fight against white-collar crime charges such as identity theft. Such situations are often complex, especially if you believe prosecutors have falsely accused you or that an investigator somehow violated your rights. Police are not free to act outside restrictions when conducting searches or seizures, or when making an arrest.

If that’s so, you can bring such issues to the court’s attention through the proper channels to challenge evidence against you or request a full dismissal of your case.