Identity Theft Attorney San Diego
California Identity Theft Laws
If someone has accused you of identity theft, you will want to take action right away. Even if the prosecutor has not yet charged you with a crime, you don’t want to take any chances when your future is on the line.
Not only can a conviction force you to spend time behind bars, but it can also make it difficult to find a job or place to live once you complete your sentence. Fortunately, a San Diego identity theft lawyer can help you face this challenging legal problem. Your attorneys will stand by your side until the end of your case, giving you the best possible odds of reaching a desirable outcome.
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 in CA
In simple terms, identity theft occurs when an individual uses someone else’s identifying information for any unlawful, fraudulent purpose, or for financial gain, such as taking out loans or applying for credit cards. The offense does not require that a person benefit or personally use the identity of another. Passing off or transmitting another’s personal information to a third party can be charged by the State.
California penal code 530.5 defines the behaviors that constitute identity theft, but the terminology can confuse those who are not familiar with legal jargon. If you are charged or are still under investigation, you should contact an experienced identity theft 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 Regarding Identity Theft
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.
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.
California Penalties for Identity Theft
It’s important you understand the penalties that the court could impose if a jury finds you guilty so that you know what to expect as you move forward. In California, identity theft is a "wobbler" offense, meaning that the prosecutor can pursue the case as 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?
Misdemeanor Identity Theft Charges
If the prosecutor pursues misdemeanor charges, you could face the following:
- up to one year in jail
- a fine of up to $1,000
Felony Identity Theft Charges
If the prosecutor seeks a felony conviction, you could face:
- up to three years behind bars
- fines of up to $10,000
Identity Theft as a Federal Offense in CA
If your case involves an alleged victim from another state, a federal court could seek a sentence of up to 30 years in a federal prison. A criminal conviction will also impact you on a personal level. For example, spending time behind bars can result in job loss, damaged relationships and more.
Legal Defenses for California Identity Theft Cases
If you were arrested and charged with identity theft, it does not mean that you will be convicted. A San Diego identity theft attorney will review your case and show you viable defenses that could prevent you from going to jail. Before the prosecuting attorney can convict you of a crime, she will need to convince a jury that you had used the victim’s personal information to defraud the victim.
Depending on the details of your case, there are several defenses to a charge of Identity Theft. The most common are:
- You didn’t do it: asserting that you did not intend to commit an illegal act could be a strong defense.
- 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: inform the jury that the victim has wrongly accused you of a crime that you did not commit.
The defense that you will want to use will depend on the information available to the court, and your attorney can help you decide what path makes the most sense.
Building Defense Strategies for ID Theft Offenses
Being charged with identity theft can change your life in a negative way, and getting convicted is even worse. Prosecutors can lie about the evidence that they have and try to offer an unfair plea deal, and you won’t know what to do if you don’t seek the assistance of a identity theft lawyer in San Diego.
A qualified defense attorney will use the discovery process to find out what evidence the prosecutor will use against you at your trial and determine your odds of getting an acquittal. Your attorney will then help you decide whether you should take the plea deal or fight in court.
Felony Gun Possession, Felony Child Abuse Charges Dismissed
Client charged with felony gun possession and endangering life of a child being in illegal possession of loaded weapons in the home. Potential 6 year Prison sentence. Child endangerment charges dismissed, NO Custody.
16 Counts, Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with a Minor Sentence Reduced, All Other Charges Dropped
Client charged with multiple sexual assault offenses, facing 16 years in prison. Convicted of One Count of Sex with a Minor, 2 years Jail, All other charges dismissed.
24 Count, Insurance Fraud Conspiracy, Grand Theft in excess of $250,000 Reduced Sentence, Other Charges Dropped
Client charged as head of conspiracy to present false claims to insurance companies, losses over $250,000. Client facing 22 years in State Prison. Convicted of two counts of insurance fraud, sentenced to 2 years in jail, remaining charges dismissed.
Felony Domestic Violence Arrest All criminal charges dismissed
After arrest, defense investigation reveals that spouse was aggressor and caused harm to client, all criminal charges dismissed.
Restraining Order, Accusations of Sexual Assault Case Dismissed
Defense Victory at trial for restraining order, Judge dismissed complaint against client, finding victims allegations and testimony not-credible.
Possession of 5KG of Methamphetamine while Armed with Loaded Gun Probation and Other Charges Dismissed.
Client facing 4 counts of possessing large quantity of Methamphetamine for sale and a loaded gun with no serial number. District Attorney offer of 6 years in State Prison. Ultimate resolution was a plea to gun possession only, probation and credit for time served with no additional jail time. All other charges dismissed.
Shoplifting from Naval Commissary Case Dismissed
Case Dismissed, record sealed in Federal Court
Assault with semi-automatic Firearm, Criminal Threat, Domestic Violence Dismissed Charges
Charges exposed client to 8 years in State Prison and two serious strike felonies. Court dismisses all gun related charges at preliminary hearing, client pleads to domestic violence charge only, no custody.
Burglary, Theft, Identity Theft Not Guilty. Case Dismissed.
Client was charged with criminal Burglary, Grand Theft and Identity Theft from local retailers. Defense investigation revealed client was not individual shown on security cameras
Restraining Orders Order Granted
Clients filed for restraining order(s), preventing former pastor from coming within 100 yards of church or making any disparaging comments about the Church on Social Media.