There are dozens of different theft crimes that are outlined on both the state and federal level. Within these crimes, there are different degrees of severity that carry different potential sentences. In the United States, the prosecution has to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They must do this by creating a case through the compiling of evidence. Evidence is generally collected by law enforcement agencies during an investigation, and the DA’s office puts together a case based on the findings.
A defense lawyer is vital to helping you with any theft accusation, regardless of the severity. They can examine the evidence being presented by the prosecution and argue about it. For one, they will be able to question whether the evidence ties you conclusively to the crime. They’ll also be able to question whether the evidence actually shows that you committed a crime of the severity that you’re being charged with. Evidence is the cornerstone of any legal case. Both the prosecution and the defense can provide evidence and documentation.
The police will compile evidence during their investigation. Evidence used in court must have been obtained using legal means. This means that the police must have either been given consent to search a place or have had a legitimate warrant for the search. Your defense lawyer can also make sure that all evidence introduced in court has been legally obtained and hasn’t been tampered with.
In theft crimes that involve fraud, the prosecution may try to find any forged documents that were created. Forged documents can include fake wills, contracts, passports, and credit cards. This kind of documentation can be introduced as evidence during a fraud case. If there was a specific device used to create the forgeries, this might also be introduced as evidence.
In some cases, the evidence might not be quite as obvious. It might be more difficult to find documentation of fraud and theft, especially in cases involving money laundering or falsified records. This makes building a case more difficult for the prosecution because they have to dig through and analyze all documentation to determine the real from the fake. If they’ve made any mistakes in their analysis, your lawyer can point them out.
Online Data as Evidence
Some theft crimes are conducted through online means. In fact, cyber crime has made theft much more common. Credit card fraud, identity theft, and embezzlement are often conducted through online means. There are a number of different pieces of data that law enforcement may collect to prove that a crime was committed. The federal or state investigators might get the IP information of the computer used from the bank or internet provider involved. This will let them see where a person logged in from, who owns the IP address, and how many times a specific page or website was accessed.
When law enforcement has determined the location of the IP address, they may use this information to draft a search warrant. The police will enter and search the premises, or the warrant may specifically give permission to take data from a person’s computer and cell phone. When a computer or cell phone is seized, the police force can analyze what transactions and social interactions were conducted using that device. The investigators might also search for any fraudulent or forged images created using the device.
Some people delete this data from their hard drives, but the information can usually still be obtained by law enforcement. Computer data is generally preserved forever in some form even after you delete it. This means that law enforcement has access to your phone records, bank accounts, email accounts, places of business, and homes through a search warrant. They may find evidence of the crime long after the crime has been committed and the evidence purged.
Prior to the execution of a search warrant, the US attorney or DA can freeze the email inbox of an individual. This allows deleted emails to be preserved for later search warrants.
The Internet’s Role in Crime
In today’s world, much of the evidence presented in court cases is based off internet data. Most people are plugged in to their computer or cell phone for the majority of the day. A cell phone can use GPS tracking to pinpoint your location when a crime was being committed, and the information from your browsing history is also available. Since so many scams and thefts are committed online, prosecutors have become experts in analyzing and building cases based on electronic information.
The internet also allows for false documentation to be more easily created and proliferated than ever before. A simple click can create fake IDs and legal documents. In addition, there’s technology that can lift credit card numbers from inside people’s wallets.
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