Identity theft is one of the most common and fastest-growing crimes in the United States.
California is no exception and the results of the crime are scary and stressful, resulting in seemingly irreparable damage to your reputation and even finances. Becoming a victim of the crime of identity theft can be a nightmare. If you or someone you love has been charged with ID theft, they’ll need a good bail bondsman.
It can result in seemingly irreparable damage being done to your good name and credit reputation and score. If you are a victim, it can also take many years to clear your name because the effects of identity theft can linger for years.
What is Identity Theft?
Under Penal Code Section 530.5, identity theft is the type of crime in which a person obtains someone else’s personal information fraudulently and unlawfully for their own gain.
What are the Main Types of Identity Theft?
Generally, there are four major types of identity theft. These include:
• Obtaining another person’s information without consent to use for illegal purposes
• Obtaining another person’s information without their consent to use for fraudulent purposes
• Selling, conveying or transferring another individual’s personal information without consent to commit fraud
• Selling, conveying or transferring another individual’s personal information without consent while knowing that the information will be used for fraudulent purposes
It is important to note that merely being in possession of another individual’s personal information does not necessarily mean they are guilty of identity theft. For someone to be convicted of the crime, the prosecutor would have to prove that the defendant used the other person’s information with fraudulent intent or for illegal purposes.
Types of Personal Information Used in Identity Theft
There are a few different types of information thieves use to commit identity theft. They include:
• Home address
• Social security number
• Tax identification number
• Driver’s license
• Passport information
• Driver’s license information
• Employee identification
• School identification
• Bank or credit information
Identity theft is committed when a person acquires any of the above information, either singularly or in any combination, to use it for unlawful purposes to acquire money, goods, property, medical or other services.
Generally, under California law, identity theft is a crime of fraud. Fraud is defined as any action that results in benefiting the criminal and/or causing harm to the victim by causing them a loss.
In the state of California, the crime of identity theft can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Which charge a defendant receives depends on the specific facts of the case and their criminal history.
An individual convicted of misdemeanor identity theft can face up to one year in county jail or a fine of up to $1,000 or both. However, someone with a criminal history who is convicted of felony identity theft can receive a sentence in state prison for up to three years or a fine of up to $10,000 or both.
Any person who has been arrested for identity theft will have to go through the bail bonds process. This generally occurs when the individual posts their bond upon being arrested. The sooner the better as it allows the individual to avoid spending any amount of time in jail prior to their court appearance.
Defenses for Identity Theft
There are a few defense tactics that defendants can use in an identity theft case. They include:
• Consent: Consent was given to the defendant by the owner of the personally identifying information.
• No Fraudulent Intent or No Unlawful Purpose: To get a conviction for identity theft, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant used the plaintiff’s information unlawfully or with intent to commit fraud. Depending on the charge, whether the defendant is charged with fraudulent intent or unlawful purpose, he or she can prove that they had no unlawful purpose or fraudulent intent.
• Interactive Computer Service or Software Provider: According to federal law, interactive computer services and software providers are exempt from the charge unless they specifically sold or transferred another individual’s information with the intent to commit fraud. If the defendant is one of these types of companies, they can use the defense that there was no intention of committing fraud.
Identity theft is an extremely serious charge. If you are arrested for the crime, you will need legal representation and bail bonds to post your bond as early as possible.