Prosecutors at all levels share law enforcement’s challenges in successfully bringing often complex identity crime cases to closure. Key challenges cited by members of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) include:
- Imprecise and varying definitions of identity crime.
- Low number of reports on identity crime from law enforcement.
- Difficulty in identifying appropriate contacts within financial institutions and law enforcement agencies.
- Barriers, perceived and real, to information sharing.
- Limited resources (personnel, appropriate training and technology).
Local law enforcement has a role to play in overcoming these barriers in partnership with prosecutors, making it more likely that perpetrators can be successfully brought to justice.
Consider the Options
There are often multiple charges that can be applied to the crimes associated with an identity crime case. When investigators are working on helping to gather evidence, it may be helpful to bear in mind the range of options that the prosecutors will have in making the charges. For example, in some states, the window of time open for charging grand theft is longer than the window for charging fraud. It may become important to have the additional time to gather the evidence.
Organize the Story
Given the complexity of identity crimes and the inter-relationship between identity crimes and other crimes, it is essential that the information gathered by law enforcement be organized into a coherent story – first, to explain the case to the prosecutor, and second, to help the prosecutor explain it to the jury. Here is a concise outline of how the information could potentially be organized to help investigators present it concisely and effectively to these audiences:
|This is the crime:|
|This is who did it:|
|This is why they did it:|
|This is how they did it:|
|This is why it matters:
(Including how the victim was harmed)