If you are facing criminal charges for identity theft, contact Los Angeles identify theft attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez. He is a former prosecutor with nearly two decades of legal experience.
If you are convicted of identity theft you will face a harsh criminal sentence, including jail time and fines. You will also be required to pay back any financial gains you achieved through your criminal acts. Call The Rodriguez Law Group today for a free consultation.
What is Identity Theft?
As the name suggests, identity theft is a type of theft. It is different from other kinds of theft because it can be done discreetly and from the comfort of your own home.
Rather than stealing physical property, you are taking another person’s personal identity and intimate information. Identity theft occurs when you willfully use this other person’s identifying information in a fraudulent or illegal way.
California Penal Code 530.5 PC
Identity theft, as defined in Penal Code Section 530.5 PC, occurs when you “willfully obtain personal identifying information… of another person” and “use that information for any unlawful purpose.”
Penal Code 530.5 PC specifically lists certain unlawful purposes that can trigger criminal liability for identity theft, which includes obtaining (or attempting to obtain):
- Real property, or
- Medical information.
Essentially any time you use another person’s identifying information to do something illegal or fraudulent you have committed identity theft.
What counts as “identifying information” for the purposes of identity theft? In California, the following items will be considered “identifying information” and can trigger criminal liability if they are taken unlawfully:
- Telephone number
- Health insurance number
- Taxpayer identification number
- School identification number
- Driver’s license number
- Social security number
- Play of employment
- Employee identification number
- Mother’s maiden name
- Bank account numbers
- PIN number or password
- Passport number
- Date of birth
- Fingerprint, facial scan, voiceprint, or other unique biometric data, and
- Credit card numbers.
Examples of Identity Theft
There are many different ways that you can potentially commit the crime of identity theft. Examples of circumstances that may result in charges for identity theft in Los Angeles include:
- Using another person’s credit card to make purchases online;
- Opening a new bank account using another person’s social security number;
- Forging another person’s name on a check or document;
- Collecting welfare or insurance benefits using another person’s social security number; and
- Filing a tax return using another taxpayer’s identification number in order to secure their refund.
Penalties for Identity Theft
Identity theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in Los Angeles. The charge you face under Penal Code 530.5 PC will depend on the facts and circumstances that are relevant to your case, including:
- The total value of the property you have unlawfully received;
- Whether anyone suffered significant harms because of your actions;
- The extent of your illegal behavior; and
- Prior convictions for identity theft and related offenses.
Each individual act of identity theft will be charged as a separate offense. This means that you will face the following criminal penalties for each count of identity theft in your case.
Misdemeanor Identity Theft
Most minor identity theft crimes that do not include fraudulent behaviors will be charged as misdemeanors. A conviction for misdemeanor identity theft carries a maximum criminal sentence of:
- 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail;
- $1,000 fine;
- Summary probation;
- Community service; and/or
Felony Identity Theft
Identity theft crimes that are fraudulent or particularly extensive will be charged as felonies. A conviction for felony identity theft carries a possible criminal sentence of:
- 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison;
- $10,000 in fines;
- Formal probation; and/or
Defenses to Identity Theft
If you have been charged with identity theft you have the right to defend yourself in court. Hiring an attorney who is familiar with defense strategies for cases of identity theft will increase your chances of securing a positive outcome in your case. When you hire the Rodriguez Law Group to handle your case we will argue any legal defense that may help to explain, excuse, and/or justify your alleged criminal behavior. Successfully arguing the following defenses can help to cast doubt on your guilt:
- You did not have the necessary criminal intent;
- You had permission to use the identifying information;
- You did not use the information for an illegal or fraudulent purpose; and/or
- You have been falsely accused or mistakenly identified.
Los Angeles Identity Theft Attorney
Are you facing criminal charges for identity theft in Los Angeles? Contact the Rodriguez Law Group today for immediate legal assistance with your criminal case. If you are convicted of identity theft you will face harsh criminal consequences, including possible time behind bars and steep fines. You will also be required to pay back your victims for any losses you cause them to suffer. Once you have paid your debt to society you will still be forced to live with the burden of a criminal record, which will affect every aspect of your life. You will find that it is hard to find a good-paying job and that you can no longer participate in important government assistance programs.
Hiring a Los Angeles identity theft attorney will increase your chances of getting the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Call the Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule your free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best legal strategies for your defense, and answer any questions you have. The choices you make today will affect the rest of your life, so do not hesitate to call today.