Identity theft has become a huge concern for Americans around the nation, including right here in California. Because hackers and others have access to such a large amount of personal data, this crime has become more prevalent in the era of the internet. However, identity theft has been a crime in California for a very long time. So how is it defined, and when can someone be accused of it?
Keep reading to learn the basics. If you are facing this charge or another charge, contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 for a free legal consultation.
The definition of identity theft in California
Identity theft entails using someone else’s personal information for illegal purposes. There are four sorts of identity theft that may occur under California law, including willfully getting another person’s personal information and exploiting it without their permission for any illegal activity.
Another example is unauthorized acquisition or retention of another person’s personal information with the intent to commit fraud. Unauthorized sale, transfer, or provision of another person’s personal information with the intent to commit fraud and unauthorized sale, transfer, or provision of another person’s personal information with actual knowledge that the information will be used to commit fraud are other examples.
Numerous means, especially when using the internet, are available for these crimes to occur. Identity theft would be the use of another person’s credit card to make an online transaction, for instance (and it would be a violation of other laws as well). Utilizing someone else’s email account is likewise a form of identity theft.
Not all types of identity theft involve technology
Other, “traditional” methods of committing identity theft exist. It would be illegal for someone to use another person’s name and social security number to apply for benefits. That person would also be accused of benefit fraud. Similar to this, applying for a loan using someone else’s name and personal information would be deemed identity theft.
According to California law, identity theft is a wobbler, which means that depending on the specifics of the case and the criminal record of the offender, it may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. It is a misdemeanor that carries a $1,000 fine and/or up to a year in county prison. It is a felony that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and a sentence of 16 months to 3 years in county jail.
It’s significant to note that every time someone’s identifying information is used, a new infraction is committed. Therefore, if you use someone else’s credit card to buy something for yourself online and then use it again to buy other things, you will be charged with identity theft each and every time you used the card. You’ll probably also be accused of credit card fraud. The sentence you might receive could be dramatically increased as a result.
Learn how to fight against these charges
Thankfully, there are ways to fight accusations of identity theft. A knowledgeable identity theft lawyer can make the case that your acquisition of another person’s identifying information wasn’t done for an illegal reason. One defense to the charge of identity theft is if you stole someone’s identifying information, such as their social security number, but never actually used it. In a similar vein, you cannot be accused of identity theft if you had no intention of defrauding anyone.
At Chambers Law Firm, we defend clients who have been accused of criminal acts in California in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Set up a free first appointment with us today by calling 714-760-4088 or emailing email@example.com.