How Serious Are Identity Theft Charges?Identity theft is a hot topic these days. Most people typically think of identity theft as when a hacker or a foreign scammer takes your information and then uses it to steal all of your money. While this could be a case of identity theft, in reality identify theft encompasses much more. Under California law, there are multiple definitions of what identity theft entails. To complicate matters, identity theft charges are similar to, and brought up alongside, other criminal charges. In this article, we’ll lay out in simple terms what identity theft means, what it is similar to, and why you should find experienced legal help if you are charged with this crime.
Identity Theft DefinitionIn layman’s terms, identity theft is the act of obtaining personal identifying information without consent for an unlawful purpose. Under California Penal Code 530.5 PC, there are four definitions of what qualifies as identity theft:
- Willfully obtaining a person’s personal identifying information and using that information for an unlawful purpose without consent.
- Acquiring or retaining possession of another person’s information without consent with the intent to commit fraud.
- Selling, transferring, or providing personal identifying information without consent with fraudulent intent.
- Knowingly selling, transferring, or providing personal information without consent while actively knowing it will be used to commit fraud.
Fraud and Similar ChargesAlthough it is similar, fraud is often mistaken for identity theft. Under California law, fraud is defined as actions that result in an unfair benefit for the defendant and/or harm another person or cause them a loss. In addition, identity theft charges can easily come with other criminal charges. Some common ones include:
- Elder Abuse
PunishmentIdentity theft in California is known as a wobbler offense, meaning that it is a crime that could be punished as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. If punished as a misdemeanor, the defendant could face up to a year in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If punished as a felony, the defendant could face three years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
Legal HelpFacing an identity theft charge is nearly impossible if you don’t have experienced legal help. As there are numerous definitions as well as the potential for multiple charges for a number of crimes, forming a defense on your own is ill-advised. If you find yourself charged with identity theft, don’t leave your case to chance. Contact The Law Office of Bradley Corbett today and make sure your rights are protected.
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