ID theft by criminals leave some having to expunge their own clean records

Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
May 17, 2017 02:45 PM

Imagine being charged with a crime you didn't commit all because a shady someone stole your identity. 


It happens more often than you'd think, and for Mew Mexico's identity theft victims, it's a nightmare. Many are stuck with criminal records they cannot erase, even though they did nothing wrong.

"When you're accused of a crime that you didn't commit and you can't get it quickly cleared up, you're angry, you're frustrated, you're depressed," said Mark Medley, who was the victim of ID theft in 2001. 

It seemed like the impossible. After a violent criminal stole his wallet, Medley's life was turned upside down with serious charges for crimes he never committed. 

The same thing happened just last month to a city employee who was summoned to court for a panhandling-related ticket.  

"I found out the citation was for panhandling on this corner," said Joseph Silva in a KOB story about his case late last month. 

A man cited for the panhandling offense provided Silva's name and date of birth to an Albuquerque police officer in November. The officer took the information as truth, charged the name using Silva's information, and now it's on his permanent criminal record. 

Silva is just beginning to navigate the criminal justice system to get the charges expunged, but Medley says it can take years. 

"He had memorized the information from my wallet," said Medley, of his 2001 case. "They took his word for it, 'Oh, OK, you name is Mark Medley? OK that's what we'll put in the computer.'" 

That oversight by Albuquerque police nearly 15 years ago launched a decade of sorrow for Medley. 

"[The charges] were on my record for about seven years," he said.  

He began a years-long crusade as a consultant to victims of ID theft

Many of his clients are charged each year with crimes they never committed because someone else used their name. 

"Probably between 20 and 30 people," Medley estimates the number of people yearly accused of crimes they had no part committing. 

"The state of New Mexico has a records expungement act, law, but it's outdated," he said. 

Medley says our state's current law makes it nearly impossible to fix the records of identity theft victims who've been charged with another person's crimes. The current records expungement act is strict, leaving judges with no power to expunge individual criminal records. 

Efforts to change the law have been vetoed. 

"The No. 1 thing that bewildered me was the fact of how difficult it was to get my record cleared of his crimes," said Medley. 

Now Medley uses his experience as an educational tool,  urging victims of ID theft to apply for a small "Identity Theft" endorsement for New Mexico driver’s licenses. 

The endorsement is added to the driver's licenses of identity theft victims who have filed a police report for their case. 

"It will alert the officer that I was a victim of identity theft, and there's a possibility that I wasn't the one that committed that crime," he said.  


Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved




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