Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, driver’s license number, account numbers, passwords or other personal identification information, without authority, and falsely poses as another person to commit fraud and gain access to the other person’s finances. This also includes selling or transferring personal information to another person to obtain money or goods.
Identity theft crime charges include:
- Internet identity theft: Internet or computer purchases using another person’s credit card
- Credit card theft: Applying for a credit card (access card) or making purchases
- Bank/credit card identity theft: Applying for a mortgage, other loan, or bank account
- Counterfeit or altered credit cards, driver’s license, or official records (medical, marriage)
- Forgery of signature on documents such as a check or debit card purchase
- Publishing account numbers
California Identity Theft Law
Under the California Identity Theft Law covered in section 530.5 of the Penal Code, a person charged with identity theft can be convicted if the prosecutor proves all of the following:
- A person willfully obtained personal identifying information of another person;
- The information was obtained without authorization;
- The information was used for any unlawful purpose, including obtaining credit, goods, services, or medical records in the victim’s name and without the victim’s consent.
An Identity Theft Charge Can Carry Severe Penalties
Falsely posing as another person is a criminal act and carries serious penalties. If you have been accused of or charged with an identity theft crime, your case may be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to one year in jail. A felony is punishable by 16 months or more of state prison time. In the case of internet theft, since the Internet crosses state lines, the theft can also be charged as a federal crime.
The identity theft charge and sentence will depend on the following:
- Seriousness or degree of the victim’s harm
- Amount of monetary damage
- The sophistication of the crime
- Defendant’s past criminal record
Avoid Identify Theft Charges and Conviction
If you have been arrested or accused of an identity theft crime, it is important to work with an attorney who has experience in identify theft cases for the best outcome of your case. Lucy S. McAllister, a skilled criminal defense attorney will develop a defense strategy early on in your case, and may be able to reduce or dismiss the charge before you even discuss settlement or go to trial. Alternative Sentencing (no jail) is always an option with a good criminal defense attorney. If you’re charged with a theft crime, you should speak with Lucy McAllister, an experienced defense attorney right away so she can properly evaluate your case.
For an initial confidential consultation, and for more information please e-mail us or call us at (877) 280-9944 – 24 hours a day.