Given the widespread use of computers, the internet, email, and social media, committing identity theft is easier now more than ever. While some individuals simply dig through people’s trash in search of identifying information, other identity theft schemes are far more sophisticated. Individuals may even impersonate financial institutions and convince unwitting victims to compromise their personal identification information.
Law enforcement is cracking down on identity theft crimes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania identity theft convictions are punishable by jail time and can also result in high monetary fines.
If you find yourself facing a charge for identity theft, you need skilled legal representation. A Pennsylvania identity theft lawyer can handle every stage of your case, advocate for you, and represent you at all criminal court proceedings.
Identity theft crimes usually involve a person using someone else’s identity (e.g., the alleged victim’s birth date, social security number, or some other personal identifier) in order to open up fraudulent accounts. These accounts might include a bank account or credit card account.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can charge someone with identity theft if they:
The attorney general has the authority to investigate identity theft crimes and may prosecute the crime if it occurred in several counties – or across state lines. A Pennsylvania identity theft attorney can determine if the prosecutor satisfied their burden of proof, and if not, may be able to obtain a dismissal of the case.
The potential penalties for an identity theft conviction depend largely upon the amount of the alleged loss. If the alleged loss amounts to under $2,000, for example, the Commonwealth can charge the accused with a first degree misdemeanor if it is their first offense. First degree misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum of five years’ incarceration, along with a maximum monetary fine of $10,000.
If the alleged loss exceeds $2,000, the Commonwealth can charge the accused with a third degree felony. If the alleged victim is a care-dependent person or at least 60 years of age, the Commonwealth may charge the accused one grade higher. Third degree felonies are punishable by a maximum of seven years’ incarceration.
In addition to the criminal penalties referenced above, the court may order the accused to pay restitution to the alleged victim to cover their attorney’s fees. The court may also order the accused to pay the pertinent credit bureau fees necessary to correct the alleged victim’s credit record. Finally, the accused may have to pay all of the filing fees and court costs that were necessary to investigate the theft and file a lawsuit.
An identity theft lawyer in Pennsylvania can try to minimize the consequences of a conviction to the greatest extent possible.
Law enforcement and government lawyers aggressively prosecute identity theft crimes to the fullest extent of the law. If the government is charging you with identity theft, you need a criminal defense lawyer involved in your case as soon as possible.
A Pennsylvania identity theft lawyer can advocate for your interests, negotiate with the prosecutor, and zealously advocate for you in court.