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, our San Diego identity theft attorneys 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.
Contact our San Diego identity theft attorneys at (858) 281-4605 today!
Not Guilty. Case Dismissed. Burglary, Theft, Identity Theft
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
Order Granted Restraining Orders
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.
Granted-No Jail Time, Supervised Probation Juvenile Sex Crime
3 counts including lewd act upon a child and sodomy by use of force Client was facing 11 years in state prison. Extensive defense investigation and use of psychological experts with client and victim to allow for specialized circumstances disposition.
No Custody, Case Dismissed Following Probation Welfare Fraud
6 Counts of Fraud by Misrepresentation and Perjury. Possible 4 year prison sentence maximum. Defense negotiated with prosecution for Diversion Program.
Case Dismissed Restraining Order
Client faced false accusations in restraining order petition. Successfully defended at trial, defense counsel discredits plaintiff’s case showing accusations to be non-credible. Successful in getting restraining order denied.
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