A growing problem across the nation, identity theft is a crime that has taken on many meanings. For those found guilty of identity theft, just one wrongful accusation can result in years of fines and negative repercussions. New York is one of many states that is significantly more vulnerable to such crimes, but is also one that applies serious penalties.
Repercussions to this type of white collar crime may be valid, but as for those falsely accused, gray areas can arise. The New York City Bar’s website lists options one can consider when falsely accused of a crime, stating that a person who spreads the false information could be responsible for paying damages to the falsely accused. The two types of defamation — libel, which is in written form, and slander, which refers to orally published defamation — help clarify the statements. However, the elements in each carry the same meaning. Plaintiffs in these incidents must prove that, first and foremost, the defendant made a false statement that he or she knew to be incorrect. False statements must also be specific, as vague statements cannot trace to a particular person. There must also be proof that the defendant shared the false information with one-third party who is not the target and, lastly, the statement must have damaged a person’s character.
While one case can differ from the next, the laws surrounding this crime are, as the National Conference of State Legislatures shares, straightforward and often severe. In New York, identity theft in the third degree and second degree constitute as Class E and Class D felonies, respectively. Aggravated identity theft results in a Class D felony in the state. A less serious crime of unlawful possession of personal identifying information in the third degree classifies as a Class A misdemeanor. In addition to these penalties, the State Legislature lists other New York laws on varying degrees of identity theft.