If you have been charged with identity theft, you may be facing state and federal charges. Both state and federal penalties for identity theft can be harsh. But it should come as no surprise that if you are tried in federal court, the penalties are likely to be much more severe. This is one of the many reasons why it is critical to consult with a Florida identity theft defense attorney if you are facing charges for identity theft.
The tenacious and highly-skilled legal team at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan has successfully defended countless cases involving identity theft, and we have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed altogether. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your case.
What Are Identity Theft Charges?
In Florida, identity theft laws cover any criminal use of another’s personal identification information. This includes:
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license number
- Bank account number
- Credit and debit card numbers
- Passport number
- PIN number
- Electronic ID
- Medical records
Criminal use of the above personal identification information includes counterfeiting the information, impersonating someone to get access to their secure information, and using someone’s personal identification to commit an illegal act, such as theft.
What Does the Law Say About Identity Theft?
Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, it is a federal crime when anyone “knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.”
For the purpose of this law, a “means of identification” includes a Social Security number, credit card number, and even the serial number on someone’s cell phone. Yet these examples only scratch the surface. Identity theft also includes computer fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and many other forms of fraud and theft.
If you commit identity theft, you may find yourself under investigation by any number of federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Secret Service. If you’re charged with federal identity theft, your case will be prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice, and you may face serious penalties, including a felony conviction, substantial fines, and up to 30 years imprisonment.
The crime of identity theft may also be prosecuted in state court. In Florida, there are several classifications of identity theft. These include:
- Criminally using or possessing another’s personal identification information;
- Using or possessing the personal identification information of a deceased person;
- Obtaining property by impersonating another;
- Using another’s personal identification information to harass that person
- Using the personal identification of a minor; and
- Counterfeiting or possessing counterfeit personal identification information with the intent to commit fraud.
Common examples of the crimes above include:
- Gaining access to a senior citizen’s government benefits;
- Tax fraud;
- Obtaining medical coverage or medications with another person’s insurance information;
- Using another person’s checks without consent;
- Using another person’s debit or credit cards without consent;
- Producing another person’s driver’s license in an encounter with police; and
- Hacking into another person’s online accounts for financial gain.
While the list above provides some common, real-world examples of identity theft, it is far from exhaustive. If you have been charged with identity theft or a related offense, contact the Law Office of Nayib Hassan for a confidential consultation about your case.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Identity Theft?
As with most criminal offenses, the penalties for identity theft vary widely, based on the type and severity of the offense, and whether the defendant has a prior criminal history. However, penalties for identity theft in Florida may include:
- Restitution paid to the other party for losses and damages incurred;
- Fines of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years for a third-degree felony;
- Fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 15 years for a second-degree felony; and
- Fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 30 years for a first-degree felony.
As you can see, penalties for this crime are severe. If you have been charged with identity theft, it is in your best interest to seek immediate legal counsel from an experienced Florida identity theft attorney.
Can Identity Theft Charges Be Dropped?
Yes. But having charges dropped is largely dependent on the quality of your legal counsel. To even consider the idea of having charges dropped, step one is to find an exceptional criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in defending against identity theft charges.
Even if the victim doesn’t press charges, you are still likely to be prosecuted for identity theft. Only the prosecutor can choose to drop the charges against you, and this typically requires negotiation with your defense lawyer.
What is the Best Way to Defend Against Identity Theft Charges?
First and foremost, get a good lawyer. A conviction of identity theft can negatively impact the rest of your life, hurting your ability to get housing and a job for years, or even decades. But with strong legal counsel and a solid defense, you may be able to get the charges against you dropped.
Common defenses to a charge of identity theft include:
- Showing that you did not intend to obtain the personal identification information of another person;
- Showing that you did not intend to use the victim’s personal identification information for personal gain; and
- Showing that you are not the person who initiated the fraudulent or illegal transactions.
Contact Identity Theft Attorney Nayib Hassan Today
If you are facing charges for identity theft or any crime, the skilled legal team at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan can help. We have protected the rights, reputation, and freedom of countless clients, and we will work tirelessly to do the same for you. Don’t let a mistake ruin the rest of your life. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your case.