January 23, 2017 - Can you imagine inviting a down on their luck family member to stay with you and then you get arrested for crimes they committed under your name? When Francis Sanders became a victim of identity theft, he found himself with a criminal record for crimes he did not commit, and the Consumer Advocacy Project of the Legal Aid Society helped to restore his identity.
Francis’s driver’s license was used without authorization by his relative, Joe (not his real name). Joe, posing as Francis, was arrested and charged with three felonies, going all the way through sentencing under Francis’s name. Francis lost his business and couldn’t get a new job, due to his background check showing a felony record. He lost his driver’s license and his auto insurance, and ended up losing his car as a result. He was evicted from his home. Later on he was arrested for an open warrant on one of the crimes Joe had committed under his name. Ruined financially and facing homelessness, Francis says that it was living through a nightmare.Francis consulted a private attorney, but without a job or resources he couldn’t afford the $30,000 retainer it would have cost. At the end of his rope, Francis was referred to the Legal Aid Society by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Chaplin. Consumer Advocacy Attorney Andrew Batog received the referral and took Francis’ case. Andrew was able to get the fingerprint verification paperwork needed to prove Francis’ identity and brought the matter to the state Attorney’s office to obtain an order correcting the court record. Over a year after this nightmare began for Francis, and within a month of coming to Legal Aid, Andrew was able to get the record corrected, the felony adjudications removed, and his driver’s license restored. Andrew states, “Francis was a true victim and he lost everything as a result. Without Legal Aid, his life would still be at a standstill. No one else offers this service.”