Los Angeles Identity Theft Lawyer
In 2021, almost 42 million Americans were victims of identity theft. With more people on social media and the vulnerability of both the very old and young to scams, identity theft involves over $52 billion annually. The figure is only going higher.
Identity theft can be prosecuted as both a California or as a federal crime and occurs when a person unlawfully and intentionally acquires and retains possession of the personal identifying information of another person. Identity theft predates the digital computer world. However, electronic commerce on the Internet has increased the incidence of theft as hackers breach security and harvest credit cards, social security numbers, and other personal data. Whether prosecuted under California state law—California Penal Code sec 530—or federal law—Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998—identity theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony with prison sentences of up to 25 years, fines, and restitution as legal consequences.
With such severe penalties looming, retaining talented and aggressive counsel early in an identity theft investigation or arrest is necessary to preserve your options and protect your rights as an individual. Contact RP Criminal Defense Law to schedule a consultation to permit our Los Angeles-based identity theft defense lawyers to assess the strength of the government’s case and to guide you through the steps of prosecution to ensure fairness and strict compliance with constitutional and statutory mandates. We are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario. RP Criminal Defense Law provides individualized representation backed by experience and a thorough understanding of all aspects of identity theft prosecutions and criminal procedure.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft involves stealing personal information to commit fraud. The fraud is for personal gain: to apply for credit, file taxes, get medical services, or just buy stuff using someone else’s credit, money, and reputation.
The personal data that might be stolen include:
- Birth date, name, phone number, and address of another
- Driver’s license number
- Social security, taxpayer identification, and Medicare numbers
- Passport number
- Worker’s ID or school ID
- Birth and death certificate details
Personal data includes financial information:
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Banking or website account PINS
Biometric data can also be targeted for theft:
- Retina or iris images
What Are the Penalties for Identity Theft in California?
Depending on the severity of the harm inflicted on the victim, and the amount of money stolen, identity theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. The penalties for obtaining, holding, selling, transferring or using personal identity data are all the same. As a misdemeanor, the penalties range up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. As a felony, the penalties range up to 36 months in state prison with fines as high as $10,000. These fines are contributed to the Victims Compensation and Government Claims Board to provide restitution to the victims.
Legal Defense for Identity Theft Charges
As in all criminal prosecutions, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the crime of identity theft. Defenses are specific to the facts of your case. At RP Criminal Defense Law, we will analyze the police and all of the investigatory reports to discern whether the police acted according to the constraints of the constitution and state statutes in how they conducted any investigation and arrest. The consequences of an illegal search or seizure might include suppression of the evidence.
In addition, the most common defenses to identity theft involve intention. The theft must be intentional in either how the personal information was gathered or how the personal information was used. Introducing evidence that there was no unlawful purpose or fraudulent intent might introduce doubt into the jury’s deliberations.
Computer services and software providers are exempted from prosecution if they are hacked and personal data is stolen from their servers. Unless there is evidence that the interactive computer service or software provider sold or purposely transferred personal data, these providers cannot be held liable for the consequences of stolen data.
Identity Theft Lawyer Serving Los Angeles & San Bernadino
Facing a charge of identity theft can be daunting, with the possibility of a felony prosecution and time in state prison if convicted. You deserve a fair assessment of the strength of the prosecution’s case to determine how best to proceed. You also deserve representation that will bring skill and expertise to examining the police and investigatory reports to understand the weight of evidence fully, and the savvy one gets from years of experience representing criminal defendants in the Los Angeles and San Bernadino courts. Our offices are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario. Only seasoned criminal defense attorneys can realistically evaluate the evidence, the credibility of witnesses, and the predilection of the trial judge. Call us at (818) 646-3443 or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.