Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in California and is aggressively investigated and prosecuted in Los Angeles. Identity Theft convictions can have serious consequences including county jail or state prison time. If you are being investigated for or have been charged with Identity Theft, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before you speak to anyone from law enforcement. Do not be caught unprepared. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights, defenses, and legal options.
What Is Identity Theft
Identity Theft is obtaining and using someone else's personal identifying information without their knowledge for the purpose of committing some type of fraud. There are a number of different ways identity theft can be accomplished, for example:
- Buying something online using someone else's personal information;
- Applying for and then using a credit card using someone else's personal information;
- Applying for a bank account, mortgage, or other type of loan using someone else's personal information;
- Creating a fake credit card, driver's license, green card or official record (e.g., marriage license).
The California Identity Theft Law ( Penal Code Section 530.5) prohibits the possession, transfer, sale, conveyance or use of someone else's personal identifying information for any unlawful purpose or fraud. Personal identifying information includes but is not limited to the following:
- Telephone Number
- Health Insurance Number
- Social Security Number
- Driver's License or Identification Number
- Date of Birth
- Mother's Maiden Name
- Credit Card Number or ATM Pin Numbers
- Passport Number
- Professional or Occupational Number
- Checking or Savings Account Number
- Computer Password
- Alien Registration Number.
Prosecutors must prove there was intent to defraud. It is not necessary that anyone actually be defrauded or actually suffers a financial, legal, or property loss in order to be convicted of Identity Theft. Identity Theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. How the offense is charged and punished depends on a number of different factors, including:
- The degree of harm to the victim
- The amount of money involved
- The sophistication of the identity theft scheme
- The defendant's past criminal record.
Even a seemingly minor incident of Identity Theft can result in significant penalties. For example, misdemeanor identity theft is punishable by up to one year in county jail, fines and informal probation. Felony identity theft is punishable by 16 months or more in state prison. If the crime is charged as a federal offense under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, the crime is punishable by up to 25 years in federal prison.
Los Angeles Identity Theft Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with Identity Theft or a related charge in Los Angeles, we can help. We will put out 70 years of combined legal experience to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. We may even get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Contact us now for a no-charge confidential evaluation of your case. It is important you speak to us before speaking to any alleged victims or law enforcement about your case.