In Florida, being convicted of identity theft is a serious offense. Penalties range from five to 30 years in prison and the payment of up to $10,000 in fines. If you or a loved one are being investigated for or charged with identity theft, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected.Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information
A person who commits identity theft can be prosecuted under a number of laws. One of the most common charges is the criminal use of personal identification information. A person commits this offense when he or she willfully and without authorization uses or possesses another person’s identifying information. This offense is charged as a third degree felony, which carries a five-year prison sentence and the payment of a $5,000 fine.
However, depending on the value of the funds fraudulently obtained and the number of people who have been defrauded, the criminal use of personal identification can carry more serious penalties. If the value of the funds fraudulently obtained is more than $5,000, or if the personal information of between ten and twenty people is used, the crime becomes a second degree felony. If the stolen services or property is worth more, or if more people’s personal information has been used, the crime can carry even more severe sentences.
The charges will remain the same even if the personal information rightfully belongs to someone who is deceased or if the personal identification information was falsified or fictitious.Personal Identification Information
There are many types of information that qualify as personal identification information, including a person’s:
- Postal or e-mail address;
- Telephone number;
- Social security number;
- Date of birth;
- Driver’s license or passport number;
- Bank account number;
- Debit or credit card numbers;
- Medical records; and
- Electronic identification numbers.
A person commits the crime of obtaining property by false personation when he or she falsely presents him or herself as someone else in order to obtain property. This offense is treated as larceny, which is punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the property taken. If the property is valued between $300 and $20,000, the offense will be charged as a third degree felony. If the value of the property taken is between $20,000 and $100,000, the offense will be charged as a second degree felony, while anything over $100,000 is considered a first degree felony.Identity Theft Defenses
The most common defenses to identity theft include:
- A lack of fraudulent intent because permission to use the personal information was obtained;
- That the charged individual provided a legal interactive software or computer service; and
- The expiration of the three-year statute of limitations.
If you have been charged with an identity theft crime, an experienced attorney may be able to help you get your charges reduced. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.