Were You Charged with California Crime Identity Theft Under Penal Code 530.5?
Technology is a greater part of our lives today than at any time during history. With our world becoming increasingly oriented around data and information, identity theft charges are becoming more common.
If you or one of your family members was charged with identity theft in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, you face serious criminal penalties that can include years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. When you’re up against charges this serious and complex, you need aggressive legal representation from a highly experienced California identity theft attorney. Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC immediately at (805) 643-5555 to arrange a free legal consultation.
Were You Arrested for Identity Theft in California?
There are many different kinds of theft offenses under California’s criminal code, such as grand theft, theft by fraud, and theft by embezzlement. Identity theft specifically involves the unauthorized use of another person’s information for the purpose of acquiring money, possessions, or services, or for the purpose of committing other unlawful acts.
A person can be charged with identity theft under Cal. Penal Code § 530.5 when, allegedly, he or she “willfully obtains personal identifying information… of another person, and uses that information for any unlawful purpose, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, real property, or medical information without the consent of that person.”
Under Cal. Penal Code § 530.55(b), personal identifying information” is defined to include, but is not limited to, all of the following:
- Alien Registration Number
- ATM Personal Identification Number (PIN)
- Bank Routing Number
- Biometric Data
- Birth Certificate Information
- Checking Account Number
- Credit Card Number
- Date of Birth (DOB)
- Death Certificate Information
- Driver’s License
- Employee Identification Number
- Health Insurance Number
- IRS Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
- Mother’s Maiden Name
- Passport Information
- Phone Number
- Place of Employment
- Savings Account Number
- School Identification Number
- Social Security Number (SSN)
Legal Defenses Against Identity Theft Charges
The prosecutor is required to prove every element of the charge in order for the defendant to be convicted. Depending on the circumstances, the following may be applicable legal defenses in your case:
- You are an interactive computer service or access software provider. California’s identity theft laws make a special exemption for this occupation under Cal. Penal Code § 530.5(f), which provides, “An interactive computer service or access software provider… shall not be liable… unless the service or provider acquires, transfers, sells, conveys, or retains possession of personal information with the intent to defraud.”
- You were falsely accused by another person, whether maliciously or through an accidental mix-up.
- You did not obtain the other person’s information willfully, or deliberately.
- You did not use the information for any illegal or unlawful purpose.
Misdemeanor and Felony Penalties: Fines and Sentencing
There are three types of criminal offenses in California: misdemeanors, felonies, and “wobblers,” which are crimes that can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies on a case-by-case basis depending on the details of the alleged circumstances.
Identity theft is a wobbler, which means the prosecutor has discretion over whether to charge you with a felony or misdemeanor. Our Ventura County identity theft lawyers will fight hard to have your charges reduced, and in some instances, may even be able to have a case dismissed outright.
The California criminal penalties for identity theft can vary depending on how the offense is charged. If the offense is charged as a misdemeanor, penalties can include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail. If charged as a felony, identity theft can lead to a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years.
There can also be additional penalties for related offenses commonly charged in conjunction with identity theft, such as:
- Auto Insurance Fraud
- Credit Card Fraud
- Debit Card Fraud
- False Personation
- Healthcare Insurance Fraud
- Medi-Cal Fraud
- Medicare Fraud
- Welfare Fraud
Experienced Criminal Attorneys Serving Ventura and Santa Barbara County
An identity theft conviction can send shockwaves through your family and your professional network. Not only can a conviction result in serious court-ordered penalties like fines and incarceration, it can also be a debilitating blow to your career, particularly if you work in California’s tech industry, banking, finance, healthcare, insurance, government, or other industries or occupations that involve the handling of sensitive personal information.
A criminal record of identity theft can destroy the career and the future you’ve worked so hard to build. Don’t wait to start exploring your legal options with a trusted criminal defense lawyer who has extensive experience fighting identity theft charges in California.
Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 right away to set up a free legal consultation. We serve Santa Barbara County and Ventura County, including Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Goleta, Orcutt, Montecito, and more.