Defending Against Identity Theft Charges
In a society obsessed with social media and online content, internet privacy has become a major concern to most Americans. Cases of identity theft, large and small, are becoming increasingly more common. However, many questions still exist as to how identity theft is defined and prosecuted.
What Is Identity Theft in California?
Identity theft is covered under California Penal Code Section 530.5 in a chapter titled, “False Personation and Cheats.” Broadly stated, it can be defined as using another person’s identifying information without that person’s consent for fraudulent purposes. The four classes of identity theft under this section can be described as:
- Unauthorized use of the personal identifying information of another person;
- Fraudulent possession of another person’s personal identifying information;
- Fraudulent transfer, sale, or conveyance of another person’s personal identifying information; and
- Knowingly transferring, selling, or conveying another person’s personal identifying information to facilitate its unauthorized use.
To convict someone of identity theft in California, the prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acquired personal information of another individual without their permission to use in an unlawful manner.
What Are the Key Defenses to Identity Theft Charges?
If you are facing identity theft charges, our San Diego criminal defense lawyer can raise several possible defenses, depending on the circumstances surrounding your particular case. Possible defenses to identity theft charges include:
- False accusations: An alleged victim can easily accuse another of committing identity theft, even when there is no basis for the accusation. In some cases, false accusations are made out of anger, jealousy, or revenge.
- No fraudulent intent: Your intentions are key to building a criminal defense. Your attorney may contend that you have no plans to commit fraud against the victim, and thus you did not commit identity theft. You may have accidentally picked up a partner’s checkbook or credit card and used it to make a purchase, but if you have no intention of committing identity theft, then you cannot be charged for it.
- Lack of unlawful purpose: Simply having another person’s personal information does not equate to identity theft; you must actually use that information to commit fraud to be charged for a crime. You may gain access to social security or credit card numbers through your work, but as long as you only use that information for lawful purposes you cannot be charged for identity theft.
- Interactive computer service or software provider: Under state identity theft law, financial computer systems and interactive software are allowed to manage personal information so long as there is no intent to use that software to commit fraud. If you have a computer service or are an access software provider, you cannot be found guilty of identity theft if there is no intent to defraud another person.
Get Legal Help for Identity Theft Charges
Charges of identity theft are a serious matter. This crime is a wobbler that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Upon conviction, you could be facing jail time of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both for a misdemeanor, or jail time of 16 months to three years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both for a felony.
Call jD LAW, P.C. at (760) 630-2000 as soon as possible if you have been charged with identity theft. Our San Diego criminal defense lawyer has more than 30 years of experience in criminal law and has a proven track record of success.
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