What Happens When You Are Charged With Identity Theft?

Asset Protection Lawyers

When someone accuses you of identity theft, it can feel like your world has turned upside down. Identity theft is under the umbrella term “theft”, and it is a criminal charge where someone intentionally steals another person’s identity or personal data for their own gain. As with any other theft charge, if a court convicts you of identity theft, it could mean a permanent criminal record, jail time, and large fines. If someone recently accused you of identity theft, you may have many questions and you may want to know much more about identity theft, charges, and possible defenses. For more information on these items, please read below.

Is Identity Theft a Crime Like Regular Theft?

Yes, as with any other theft charges, the law considers identity theft to be a crime. This type of theft happens when one person knowingly and intentionally steals, compromises, or uses another person’s identity with the intent to use it for personal or financial gain. In fact, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998 to ensure that an identity theft crime is punishable as a felony.

What Types of Identity Theft Are There?

There are many different types of identity theft that someone may be accusing you of, but some of the more common types are:

  • Phishing
  • Internet fraud
  • Putting malware on someone’s computer
  • Stealing someone’s social security number
  • Stealing someone’s credit card, and
  • Check forgeries

Are There Different Types Of Penalties For Identity Theft?

Yes, there are many different types of penalties for identity theft, and depending on what the circumstances were surrounding the identity theft, the punishment will be different. Additionally, each state has their own specific laws that complement federal laws regarding identity theft. Some of the punishments might be:

  • If the value of the crime was less than $2,000—charged with a misdemeanor.
  • If the value of the crime was greater than $2,000—charged with a felony.
  • When the victim is elderly or a minor—the punishment is more severe.
  • If this is your third offense, regardless of the value someone accuses you of stealing—charged with a felony.
  • The potential for fines to exceed $5,000.
  • Payment of restitution.

What If You Didn’t Go Through With the Crime?

Even if you did not go through with the identity theft crime, the law still looks to see if there is a proven intent to commit fraud when a court decides to convict you. What does this mean? It means that if you initially set out to steal someone’s credit card information for your own financial gain, gathered the information, but never went through with using their information, a court only needs to see that there is provable intent.

What Should You Do When Charged With Identity Theft?

If someone is accusing you of identity theft, it is a very serious matter. It could mean a permanent criminal record, large fines, and time in jail. This could make finding a job or getting a home very difficult in the future. Don’t settle for representing yourself in court when someone accuses you of this crime. Instead, get an attorney for criminal defense in DC as soon as possible who can help you with your identity theft charge.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and identity theft charges.

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