The Explosion Of Identity Theft Charges
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. In 2014, there were more than 17 million victims of identity theft in the United States, and others were falsely accused of the crime. If you, a friend or a loved one have been accused of taking someone’s identity, call the experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bellwoar Kelly, LLP.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses the personal identifying information of another person, without the authorization of that person, for unlawful purposes. Given the increased use of technology in our daily lives, identity thieves have access to more personal information than ever before. When that information is used for monetary gain or counterfeit purposes, an identity theft crime has occurred.
Our skilled identity theft attorneys represent clients charged with identity theft offenses in a wide variety of contexts. We can help with charges of identity theft in connection with these and other circumstances:
- Obtaining false or counterfeit government documents, including drivers licenses, social security cards and birth certificates
- Acquiring someone’s personal information in order to obtain credit cards
- Using someone’s personal information to access medical information
Under Pennsylvania law:
§ 4120. Identity theft.
(a) Offense defined — A person commits the offense of identity theft of another person if he possesses or uses, through any means, identifying information of another person without the consent of that other person to further any unlawful purpose.
(b) Separate offenses — Each time a person possesses or uses identifying information in violation of subsection (a) constitutes a separate offense under this section. However, the total values involved in offenses under this section committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same victim or several victims, may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.
(c) Grading.–The offenses shall be graded as follows:
(1) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (2), an offense under subsection (a) falls within the following classifications depending on the value of any property or services obtained by means of the identifying information:
(i) if the total value involved is less than $2,000, the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree;
(ii) if the total value involved was $2,000 or more, the offense is a felony of the third degree;
(iii) regardless of the total value involved, if the offense is committed in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy as defined in section 903 (relating to criminal conspiracy), the offense is a felony of the third degree; or
(iv) regardless of the total value involved, if the offense is a third or subsequent offense under this section, the offense is a felony of the second degree.
(2) When a person commits an offense under subsection (a) and the victim of the offense is 60 years of age or older or a care-dependent person as defined in section 2713 (relating to neglect of care-dependent person), the grading of the offense shall be one grade higher than specified in paragraph (1).
Potential Identity Theft Penalties And Consequences
Federal identity theft laws (Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act) were strengthened in 2008 and provide stiff penalties for conviction, including jail time. The new law allows federal courts to prosecute when the cyber criminal and the victim live in the same state. In cases where convicted identity thieves are ordered to pay restitution, the federal law now specifies the victim should get money “equal to the value of the time reasonably spent by the victim in an attempt to remediate the intended or actual harm incurred by the victim from the offense.”
Legislative representatives in Pennsylvania are also working to increase penalties for individuals who commit crimes while using a stolen identity. Depending on the evidence and severity of the alleged offense, identity theft may currently be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Pennsylvania. Currently, identity theft is graded as a felony in the third degree punishable up to seven years in prison if the theft is more than $2,000. A third or subsequent conviction for identity theft is a felony of the second degree punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Hire An Experienced Identity Theft Attorney
Any identity theft charge should be taken very seriously. To protect your rights, you must consult with an experienced theft attorney who will fight for your freedom. The identity theft lawyers at Bellwoar Kelly, LLP thoroughly understand identity theft charges and will work diligently to defend your good record.
Our attorneys regularly appear in courts throughout Chester County and Montgomery County and Delaware County, as well as courts in the Bucks County, Pennsylvania. To schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your identity theft case, contact an identity theft lawyer at Bellwoar Kelly, LLP right away.