In the "information age," it is unfortunately true that personal identification information is often accessible via computer, cell phone, or other means. For this reason, identity theft has become a major concern to prosecutors and state agencies in southern California. Those accused of this crime will face vast resources of special state-funded task forces, and therefore, it is particularly critical for defendant's to be represented by a highly experienced identity theft attorney.
Forms of Identity Theft
Section 530 of the California Penal Code defines identity theft as unlawfully and intentionally acquiring and retaining possession of personal identification information of another person. As such information is often found on public documents, forgery is an offense closely connected with identity theft. Some particular forms of identity theft are:
- Credit card fraud. This is the most common type of identity theft. It can involve stealing and using the credit card of another or using that person's information to create a false credit card account. Online purchases or attempted transactions rank high in credit card fraud. Selling fraudulent or stolen credit cards is another common ploy.
- Attempting to use your own credit card when you know it is expired or otherwise inadmissible.
- Debit card fraud, which mirrors credit card fraud in almost every way.
- Check fraud, which occurs when a forged check is presented as genuine for the purpose of defrauding the payee. It can also involve forging a signature, and if such a check is sent through the mail, it is also mail fraud (a federal offense).
- Impersonation, which is posing as another person in order to obtain a benefit. This could be done while using a stolen credit card, presenting a forged check, or attempting to gain illegitimate welfare benefits.
- Forging false driver's licenses, state ID cards, license plates, vehicle registration stickers, or handicapped parking permits.
- Counterfeiting a California state public seal.
- Posing as another person in an Internet chat room. This is often done in connection with cyber-stalking.
- Senior fraud, which applies when identity theft is done to those 65 years of age and older. For example, a nursing home worker might forge a resident's name on a check and cash it.
Consequences of an Identity Theft Conviction
Identity theft can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature of the particular case and the defendant's past criminal record. Each item containing another's personal information found in the defendant's possession is listed as a separate count of identity theft.
Felony counts carry a three-year term in state prison. In other cases, parole or probation may be possible. Restitution will also need to be made to the victim, and court fees and punitive fines must be paid. In many cases, an identity theft conviction will cost a person his/her job, especially if that job requires them to deal with client's personal information.
Solid Identity Theft Defense
If you have been accused of committing identity theft in the Los Angeles area, we at the Law Offices of Jeff Voll have the resources and expertise necessary to maximize your odds at winning your case. We will guide you through the investigation and trial phases and help you every step of the way. We know how to expose weaknesses in the prosecution's case and to build you a strong defense. Call us today at 323-467-6400, and we will waste no time in attending to your needs.