Identity Theft: Penal Code 530.5 PC

Identity theft refers to assuming another person’s identity for an illegal purpose. California has more incidents of identity theft than any state in America.

Penal Code 530.5 PC includes four kinds of identity theft; all are punishable and may put you or a loved one in a position of needing a bondsman.

  • Willfully attaining and assuming another person’s identity information for an illegal purpose without the consent of that person. Examples of the unlawful purposes that one can use another person’s identity for include: money, goods, credit, property, services and medical information.
  • Retaining and acquiring the possession of another individual’s personal identity information without their consent and with the intention of committing fraud.
  • Transferring, selling or providing another person’s identification information without the consent of that person and with the intention of committing fraud.
  • Transferring, selling or providing the identification information of another person knowing that the information shall be used for fraudulent purposes.

Willfully Obtaining Information

Willfully means freely accepting another person’s information and using it intentionally.

Personal Identifying Information

According to the Penal Code, personal identifying information is information like:

  • Date of birth, names, telephone numbers and addresses
  • Social security numbers and tax I.D.
  • Passport information and driver’s license
  • Credit card or bank account information
  • Information in birth certificates
  • Information in death certificates


Under the criminal fraud laws, fraud refers to the deliberate acts designed to make an unfair or unlawful benefit out of something or to make someone else suffer from loss.

A good example of fraud is when someone makes a financial gain at the expense of another person. This can be mainly achieved through using the name or information of another person to acquire insurance benefits or through purchasing items by using another person’s credit card.

Examples of California Identity Theft

  • Internet Fraud: When you use another person’s credit card to purchase an item online or use the email account of another person
  • Applying for a loan with someone else’s identifying information
  • Forging another person’s signature for financial gain
  • The use of another person’s social security number or personal information to acquire welfare or insurance benefits.
  • The use of another person’s name to execute a crime.

Penalties and Sentencing

California’s law on identity theft is called the California wobbler offense. The term wobbler refers to a crime that the prosecutor can file as a misdemeanor or felony all depending on what the facts of the case are and the criminal history of the accused person.

If a person is convicted of identity theft as a misdemeanor, they will get:

  • One year in jail
  • A maximum fine worth $1,000

If a person is convicted of identity theft as a felony, they will get:

  • 16 months or 1-3 years in jail
  • A maximum fine worth $10,000

If you are charged with an identity theft crime, you can use a bail bonds service to get bond and hire a lawyer to help you quash the claims against you.
Read also about penal code 404.6 PC