Identity theft isn’t just a crime about stealing, it’s also about committing fraud, and that’s why many states take this criminal offense very seriously. Common types of identity theft include, social security identity theft, driver’s license identity theft, insurance identity theft, and financial identity theft.
And the penalties for identity theft vary based on the state in which you commit the crime. If you’ve been arrested for this crime in California, you can face a fine, jail time, or both, depending on the circumstances.
Penalties for Identity Theft in California
If you are charged with felony identity theft in California, the penalties you face include:
- Up to three years in county jail
- A fine of as much as $10,000
- Both jail time and a fine
If you are charged with misdemeanor identity theft in California, the penalties you face include:
- Up to 12 months in county jail
- A fine of as much as $1,000
You may also be charged with federal identity theft, which is defined as knowingly transferring or using without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law.
This carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and a substantial fine.
Defenses To An Identity Theft Charge
If you are charged with identity theft in California, there are three common defenses that a criminal attorney can use on your behalf, including:
- No Actual Use of Identity – If you obtained someone else’s identity information, but didn’t use it for an unlawful purpose, you can argue that no crime occurred.
- Mistaken Identity – If you can prove that you were not the person who stole the other individual’s identity, you may be acquitted of the charge.
- Consent – If you can prove that the person whose identity you possess gave consent, you can mount a successful defense.
The main factor in an identity theft case is whether or not the prosecutor can prove that you used the other person’s identity for an unlawful purpose.
For example, if you obtained someone’s personal information, and the prosecutor can show that you applied for a credit card in that person’s name and used the credit card to buy products and services, that would be considered an unlawful purpose.
Identity Theft Is a Serious Crime
Identity theft is a serious charge, and although it is considered a white collar crime, prosecutors in California have become more zealous about seeking prison time for people who commit fraud after stealing an individual’s personal information. That’s why it’s so important that you secure the services of a criminal defense team that has decades of experience handling these types of cases. Protecting your rights and keeping you out jail are two of the primary goals at the Elden Law Group. Please call us today at (800) 455-6200 for a free consultation.