Crime & Punishment

Crime & Punishment

AAMVA released a new white paper outlining how jurisdictions can improve their partnerships with prosecutors

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In an ideal legal world, any time a person commits a crime, that person is prosecuted. Legislators write laws for this very reason. But not all crimes are created equal, and not all prosecutors have the bandwidth to review every case.

“It seems very straightforward, right? You have a case, so you give it to the prosecutor to prosecute,” says Paul Steier, AAMVA’s director of vehicle programs. “But the kicker is that prosecutors’ plates are usually overflowing, so they have to pick and choose.”

Developing and maintaining partnerships with prosecutors can be difficult for motor vehicle agencies (MVAs), whose time and resources are also limited. And many prosecutors do not have specialized training in MVA-related white collar fraud cases. But without these two entities working together, crimes can go uncharged, MVA employees could lose the enthusiasm to identify and prevent fraud, and victims are left without any closure.

“When a person fraudulently obtains an MVA product or service with false information, it can create all kinds of problems,” Steier says. “So helping the prosecutor see the potential impact that can have on society is really important.”

In June, AAMVA released a white paper titled “Developing and Maintaining Successful Prosecutor Partnerships” to educate jurisdictions on how to develop and enhance prosecutorial partnerships. In addition to the white paper, AAMVA included a Prosecutor Handout and Educational Slides, which MVAs can provide to prosecutors during meetings and are designed to be customized to fit specific jurisdiction needs.

The 14-page white paper provides detail on how jurisdictions can get started working with prosecutors if they do or do not have an investigative staff; a list of relevant MVA resources to give to law enforcement and prosecutors; how to best support the prosecutor; how to navigate the court process; as well as a chart that illustrates the types of offenses and how they impact the victim and society.

For example, when the offense is identity theft, the impact that could have on victims and society could include:

  • Concealed identity and evasion
  • Financial fraud
  • Public and highway safety
  • Government benefits related fraud
  • Or, when the offense is motor vehicle fraud and theft, the impact that could have on victims and society could include:
  • Tax fraud
  • Insurance fraud
  • Theft
  • Odometer fraud
  • Title washing (removal of brands)
  • Public and highway safety

“The impact could be severe, and so often, the victims of these types of crimes get left out,” Steier says. “But with the help of prosecutors, innocent victims can get their identities and lives back.”

Download the white paper titled “Developing and Maintaining Successful Prosecutor Partnerships,” the Prosecutor Handbook and educational slides here

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