IDENTITY THEFT: CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE (PC) SECTIONS 528-539, CA PC 530.5
Because of widespread technological advances, identity theft has become much more prevalent and is among the fastest growing crimes in California. As a result, new federal and state laws have been enacted to pursue and punish those who commit identity theft.
The Identity Theft Laws in California, PC Sections 528-539 (commonly known as the CA Identity Theft Statute), carry severe punishment to those convicted. CA Penal Code 530.5 outlines the many examples of identity theft cases filed by District Attorney. Identity theft charges can involve sophisticated investigations conducted over months or years. Federal charges under the U.S. Code can also be brought in some cases.
DEFINITION OF IDENTITY THEFT
As opposed to regular theft, the basic definition of identity theft is that it’s against the law to use someone else’s identifying information for an unlawful or fraudulent purpose. The offense does not require that a person benefit or personally use the identity of another. George Gedulin, a Criminal Lawyer in San Diego, explains that passing off or transmitting another’s personal information to a third party can be charged by the State. Consequently, if you are charged or are still under investigation, you should contact an experienced Defense Attorney. At the Law Office of George Gedulin, we have the expertise to advise you on your best possible legal options, including a possible reduction or dismissal of the charges against you.
WHAT MUST THE PROSECUTOR PROVE
It is important to note that to be convicted of Identity Theft, it is not necessary that the person was actually defrauded or actually suffered financial, legal or property loss. Rather, you just must have had the intent to cause the loss. There are strict procedures for an Identity Theft charge to be upheld and the Prosecutor must prove two main facts:
1. That you purposefully and willfully obtained the personal identifying information of another person; and
2. Without that person’s permission, you used that personal identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain credit, goods, services, real estate, medical information, restraining order, or some other unlawful purpose.
What is personal identifying information?
Personal identifying information includes almost anything personal that comes to mind: name, date of birth, address, telephone numbers; tax or social security numbers; driver’s license or passport numbers/information; school/employee identification information; bank and/or credit card account information; and/or information in a birth or death certificate.
What are common examples of using that information for an unlawful purpose?
The following are common examples of an unlawful purpose: using someone’s personal information to buy something online; applying for and using a credit card with someone else’s personal information; applying for a bank account, mortgage, or other loan using someone else’s personal information; and/or creating a fake credit card, driver’s license, green card, or other official document based upon someone else’s personal information.
Whether misdemeanor or felony, being accused of Identity Theft is no laughing matter.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES?
There are several defenses to a charge of Identity Theft. The most common are:
·You didn’t do it!
·You didn’t use the information in connection with an unlawful purpose.
·You didn’t have the requisite criminal or fraudulent intent.
·You were in fact a victim of mistaken identity.
Each situation is very unique, and therefore, one or more of the defenses above may apply to your situation.
PENALTIES AND PUNISHMENT FOR IDENTITY THEFT
In California, an Identity Theft charge is a “wobbler”, meaning that it can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The prosecutor will consider the following factors when determining whether to pursue a misdemeanor or felony conviction:
·Harm: what harm has the victim suffered?
·Money $$$: did the victim suffer a significant financial loss?
·Sophistication: was this a sophisticated identity theft scheme or a one-time occurrence?
·History: what is the defendant’s past criminal record/history?
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could face up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000. While any Identity Theft conviction is very damaging to future employment opportunities and professional licensing, a felony conviction is devastating. If convicted of a felony, you can face up to 3 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. With either, you can receive probation.
Note: If you are charged with a federal offense, you can face up to 25 years in federal prison.
Because there is a stigma associated with any fraud crime, including Identity Theft, if you have been charged or are facing charges, then you need the advisement and guidance of an experienced San Diego Criminal Lawyer. At the Law Office of George Gedulin, we will provide a free and confidential consultation to discuss your options.
At the Law Office of George Gedulin our primary goal is to restore our client’s freedom and peace of mind.
For a free, confidential consultation contact the Law Office of George Gedulin at (858) 281-4605. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.