According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 17.6 million people, or 7% of our country's residents age 16 and up, were victimized by identity theft in 2014. The figure was similar to previous figures. Identity theft is a type of fraud that occurs when somebody tries to misuse or successfully misuses an existing account, such as a debt or credit card account, or misuses information to open a new account, or misuses personal information in order to defraud. The most common sort of identity theft is unauthorized misuse or trying to misuse an existing account, such as fraudulent use of a credit card or unauthorized use of an existing bank account. If you are charged with identity theft, you should consult an experienced Clearwater identity theft lawyer about defense options. Hanlon Law protects the rights of the accused.Situations Involving Identity Theft Charges
Identity theft is a white collar crime. Often, this charge is brought alongside charges for mail and wire fraud or grand theft charges. In order to secure a conviction for identity theft under Florida Statute section 817.568 in Florida, a prosecutor will need to establish that you, (1) without authorization and willfully, (2) fraudulently used or possessed with the intent to fraudulently use (3) someone else's personal identification information, (4) without consent. Personal identification information includes any names or numbers that are used to identify a particular person. It is not restricted to the use of names. You could be charged not only for using someone else's name but also for using their street address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, or other personal identifiers.
Identity theft is a third-degree felony. When public records are used in order to commit identity theft, you can be charged with the next highest degree of crime. Thus, if you used public records to use a credit card obtained under someone else's name and linked to their street address, you could be charged with a second-degree felony. You could also be charged with a second-degree felony if you fraudulently used 10-20 people's personal identifying information without consent. However, the circumstances of these cases are often complex, and an identity theft attorney in the Clearwater area can help you determine whether you may have a strong defense.
If you willfully and without authorization fraudulently used another person's personal identifying information without consent to get a pecuniary benefit of at least $50,000, you can be charged with first-degree felony identity theft. Moreover, you can also be charged with first-degree felony identity theft if you are caught fraudulently using 20-30 people's personal identifying information without consent. The mandatory minimum sentence that the court can impose is 5 years in prison. The mandatory minimum sentence for trying to obtain pecuniary benefits of $100,000 or more or for stealing personal identifying information of at least 30 people without consent is 10 years’ imprisonment.
Identity theft committed against a minor (under age 18) or an elderly person who is at least 60 years old is charged as a second-degree felony. If you are a parent or legal guardian of a minor victim or an elderly victim, and you use their information willfully and fraudulently, you can be charged with a second-degree felony. If you willfully and fraudulently use a deceased person's personal identification information or use the personal identification information of a dissolved business entity, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. The mandatory minimum sentence in that situation if the amount of fraud is at least $5,000 or if there are 10-20 deceased individuals or dissolved business entities as victims is 3 years in prison. A case involving mandatory minimums makes it especially important to consult a Clearwater identity theft attorney.
You can be charged with first-degree felony aggravated identity theft when there is an economic benefit of at least $50,000, or there are 20-30 victims, and you willfully and without authorization used personal identification information about a dead person or a dissolved business entity. The mandatory minimum sentence in that case is 5 years in prison. When the economic benefit or the amount of fraud is $100,000 or more, or at least 30 deceased individuals or dissolved business entities have had their identities stolen, the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years in prison.
A mandatory minimum sentence is one over which the court has no discretion to depart downward. However, the court can impose a longer sentence than the mandatory minimum sentence.Hire an Experienced Identity Theft Lawyer in Clearwater
Identity theft charges can result in prison time and a fine. Even after serving your time, you may find it hard to rent an apartment, secure a job, or obtain or keep a professional license. Our firm's founder, Clearwater criminal lawyer Will Hanlon, has fought for the rights of the accused since 1994. If you need representation in a case involving identity theft, health care fraud, public assistance fraud, or another white collar crime, contact Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or via our online form.