Identity theft, false personation, or identity fraud–When you are charged with this crime, it can harbor serious legal repercussions. But when you have been wrongfully accused of identity theft, you need a strong criminal defense attorney who can defend you and seek the most favorable outcomes. You need Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano.
Pennsylvania Identity Theft Law
Under Pennsylvania law, an individual has committed identity theft when he or she possesses or uses, through any means, identifying information of another without the consent of that person for any unlawful purpose.
Often, an individual will commit identity theft for financial gain. Because of this, the grading of the offense is dependent on the value of any property or services obtained by that identity.
- Misdemeanor of the first degree: Total value is less than $2,000
- Felony of the third degree: Total value is $2,000 or more
- Felony of the third degree: When the offense is committed in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy
- Felony of the second degree: The offense is a third or subsequent offense
However, when the victim of identity theft is 60 years of age or older, a care-dependent person, or an individual under 18 years of age, the grading of the offense shall be one grade higher than specified above.
What is considered identity theft?
In Pennsylvania, identity information can include social security numbers, credit cards, insurance information, bank account information, and cell phone service, as well as information like date of birth.
Each time a transaction is made using another’s information, you can face an additional identity theft charge. For each charge, you will face harsh penalties, including charges related to credit card fraud or forgery.
Examples of identity theft include:
- Using a stolen credit card
- Using personal checks or business checks that are not yours
- Stealing a driver’s license to commit fraud
- Hacking into a bank account and stealing money
- Filing false tax returns to collect the refund
- Using someone’s identity to obtain government benefits, health care, or prescription medication
- Applying for a loan or mortgage using another person’s information
- Applying for a credit card with someone else’s information
- Securing a replacement credit card in someone else’s name
The grading of the crime will determine the penalty given.
For misdemeanors, you may face five years’ incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. For felonies of the third or second degree, you may face a fine of up to $25,000 and a prison sentence of up to ten years.
In extreme cases, you could be fined thousands or even millions of dollars, as well as sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies often investigate claims of identity theft for financial gain when the value of the crime is that large.
Defenses to Identity Theft
If you have been wrongfully accused of identity theft, you should know that we have defenses ready to use for you. You do not want a criminal record for a crime you did not commit. Potential defenses include:
- Authorized use of identity. If you were given permission to make a purchase or use someone’s identity in a transfer, you have not committed identity theft. This permission may be explicit or implicit. For example, if you work for a company and they give you banking information to make a purchase, you have been explicitly given permission to work as that company. Though this is easier to prove, the permission may have been implicit, such as you tell your employer or related supervisor that you are making a purchase and they nod in agreement. Though the evidence is not followed by a paper trail, it is possible to prove.
- No fraudulent intent or unlawful usage. If you have not engaged in unlawful conduct with the stolen identity, you cannot be held criminally liable for identity theft, even if you illegally obtained the information but did nothing with it.
- Lacking intent. If you did not willfully obtain the stolen identity and use it for unlawful purposes, you cannot be found criminally liable. For example, if you are accidentally given another’s banking information or you used the wrong credit card by accident, there is a lack of intent.
Because of the complexity of these cases and the skill needed to provide defense, you need a legal team with a proven track record of success in these white collar offenses.
Identity Theft Defense By Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano.
Identity theft charges can be very overwhelming and intimidating. Even if you have been wrongfully accused, you still need legal counsel on how to proceed.
Our team of criminal defense attorneys will investigate the allegations against you. This includes carefully reviewing the prosecution’s evidence and conducting independent research to uncover the truth.
You have rights. We can fight for them. Call (570) 348-0776 and schedule a free case evaluation. Contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano.