Understanding identity theft charges

Chuck Smith Attorney at Law

Identity theft is the process of taking another person’s form of personal identification and using it for fraudulent means. One may not realize the severity of this crime and its potential repercussions. 

This crime is a white-collar crime, and a person may face a felony charge for identity theft under certain circumstances. It is vital to understand how to move forward when facing accusations of identity theft. 

Accessing personal data 

There is a variety of personal data that one may access for identity theft. Social Security numbers, birth dates, email addresses or driver’s license are all potential ways for a person to steal critical data. 

One example may be applying for a credit card under other peoples’ names, which causes them to have unknown debt. Additional potential situations may include using someone else’s bank account information or credit card number to make online purchases. 

Understanding the penalties 

The penalties for committing identity theft may be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the details of each case and the criminal record of the accused. Misdemeanor charges may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a year in jail. 

However, a felony charge may result in as much as $5,000 in fines and up to three years in jail. In situations where the one accused of identity theft led to the victim gaining a criminal record, it becomes criminal identity theft, and the repercussions may be more severe. 

Gaining evidence  

A prosecutor needs to prove that a person performed an unlawful act and acquired, used, sold or gave away another’s personal identification. For example, if the prosecution finds evidence that a person applied for credit or made purchases with another person’s credit card, they may have a stronger case. 

One example is if there is video footage of a person purchasing someone else’s card. A potential defense for this type of case may be that the owner of the credit card allowed the accused person to use it, which means it was not unlawful. 

Criminal defense