Criminal Defense Law Firm

San Francisco Identity Theft Lawyer

Identity theft is covered under Penal Code 530.5 PC , and it refers to someone who is using another person’s identifying information for unlawful purposes without that person’s consent. This can include the intent to commit fraud. Identity theft also includes providing or selling that personal information to another person without the victim’s consent and with the intent to commit fraud. You could be charged if you know that the person who receives the personal information is going to use it to commit fraud.

Understanding How Identity Theft Is Often Committed

What is personal identifying information? This would include a person’s phone number, name, date of birth, address, SSN, tax ID, driver’s license number, passport information, school ID, employee ID, mother’s maiden name, credit card numbers, bank account information, financial information, or info found in birth and death certificates.

It is important to understand what willfully obtaining for an unlawful purpose means, as well. When someone does something willfully, it means that they do it on purpose. Unlawful purposes include acquiring or trying to acquire money, property, services, goods, credit, or medical information.

According to the statute, however, a district attorney is not required to prove that a defendant acted with intent to defraud. They can still be found guilty.

Some of the other offenses that are often related to identity theft include credit card fraud, forgery, mail theft, and false impersonation, all of which could carry their own penalties.

False impersonation simply means pretending to be another person and doing something that would then cause the victim to become liable in a lawsuit or to be required to pay money, for example. If the defendant gets some type of benefit from impersonating the other person, it is also considered a crime.

Credit card fraud is closely related to identity theft. People will often take someone’s identity to use their personal credit card without their consent. They might also use the card to buy stolen goods, for example.

Forgery, which includes altering certain documents or falsifying a signature is a form of identity theft, too. This could happen if someone were to falsify a signature on a check belonging to another person. Mail theft is often part of identity theft, as people may take mail to get access to personal information.

What Are the Penalties for Identity Theft Crimes?

Identity theft is considered a wobbler. This means that it could be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, based on the circumstances.

In those cases where the charge is a misdemeanor, the punishments will often be misdemeanor probation and up to a year in jail. There could also be a fine of up to $1,000.

When charged as a felony, punishments will include felony probation, potential prison time of up to three years, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

It is possible for expungement from your record if the defendant completes probation or jail time, whichever applies to the case. Also, those who are in California and who commit a felony would have their rights to firearms taken away.

What Types of Defenses Are Available for Identity Theft?

It is possible to beat one of these charges with the right defense. One of the most common defenses used is when there was no unlawful purpose. If the defense can show that the person accused was not going to break the law with the personal information they received, the prosecution would lose their case.

Another defense that could work in some cases would be if they did not act willfully when they took the information. For example, if someone received the information by mistake and did not use it to commit a crime, it would work as a defense. Also, if there was no intent to defraud, the defendant would likely win their case.

Of course, it can be difficult to prove these things in court without the aid of a reputable attorney well-versed in the field of identity theft.

Contact Our Attorneys for Help

If you have been accused of identity theft, you don’t want to represent yourself in court. The consequences of being convicted are far too severe. Instead, contact the professionals at Gasner Law by calling 415-782-6000 today.