As technology becomes more and more integrated into the everyday lives of Texans, identity theft is steeply on the rise. Gone are the days of needing another person’s physical documents or cards to commit identity theft. Merely getting ahold of another person’s device or sharing personal information on an unsecure site or network can allow someone to get their hands on another person’s most personal information with relative ease. The perpetrator and the victim don’t even need to be in the same place, or even the same country, for identity theft to occur. A victim of identity theft may not even become aware of the theft for quite some time.
As of 2018, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that about 9% of people 16 and over have been the victim of identity theft each year, and monetary losses as a result of identity theft soared to $15.1 billion in 2018 alone.
Because identity theft has become so prevalent, identity theft charges are prosecuted mercilessly at both the state and federal level. Prosecutors do not take these charges lightly, which is why, if you or a loved one are facing identity theft charges, you need the most aggressive representation possible. The Benjamin Law firm has extensive experience defending against white collar crime charges, including identity theft charges, on the state and federal level. Contact us today so we can protect you, your future, and your freedom.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is an economic crime which occurs when a person unlawfully uses another person’s personal information or unlawfully assumes another person’s identity to obtain goods or services. It can be prosecuted on the state or federal level. These crimes often involve the taking and use of a person’s name, Social Security Number, identification, credit cards, debit cards, bank information, and the like without permission.
Common examples of identity theft include, but are not limited to:
- Opening credit cards, bank accounts, or taking out loans using another person’s identifying information.
- Using another person’s debit cards and credit cards without permission to obtain goods or services or to obtain cash advances.
- Appropriating another person’s bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts.
- Stealing a person’s physical identification documents, credit cards, debit cards, or other items for unlawful use.
- Appropriating another person’s pre-approved credit card offers.
- Skimming, which involves using a device to obtain another person’s credit card or debit card numbers.
- Phishing, or pretending to be an entity such as a financial institution and sending spam messages requesting personal information.
- Sending another person’s billing information to a new address via a change of address form.
Penalties for Identity Theft in Texas
Texas Identity Theft Statute, found in the Texas Penal Code (at Title 7, Chapter 32, Section 32.51), defines identity theft as the “fraudulent use of or possession of identifying information” with the intent to harm, defraud, possess, transfer, or use the following items:
- Another person’s identifying information without consent
- Information about a deceased person which would serve as identifying information were the person still alive
- Identifying information for a child under 18.
Texas defines identifying information broadly to include name, date of birth, biometric data, electronic identification numbers, address, account numbers, routing codes, credit or debit card numbers, social security numbers, and even telecommunication identifying information or an access device.
The penalties for identity theft at both the state level in Texas and the federal level can be very harsh. They increase depending on the number of items obtained, possessed, transferred, or used. There are a number of other crimes that are often charged alongside identity theft charges, including credit card abuse, forgery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and more. The court may also order restitution in addition to these penalties, which involves paying the victim or victims back for lost income and other expenses incurred due to the offense, with the exception of attorney’s fees.
|Number of Items||Criminal Classification||Max. Prison Time||Max. Fine|
|Less than 5||State jail felony||2 years||$10,000|
|5 to 10||Third-degree felony||5 years||$10,000|
|10 to 50||Second-degree felony||20 years||$10,000|
|More than 50||First-degree felony||99 years or life||$10,000|
Federal identity theft law is governed by the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which states that it is a federal crime to knowingly transfer or use, without permission, another person’s identification with the intent to commit, aid, or abet any activity that violates federal law or constitutes a felony under state or local law.
A federal identity theft conviction can result in hefty fines and prison time of up to 15 years. If the offense was a part of a greater drug-trafficking crime, a crime of violence, or if there was a prior identity theft conviction, the fine increases and the maximum prison sentence becomes 20 years. Federal law also provides an Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, allowing for another charge of aggravated identity theft, which occurs when the stolen information was used to commit a felony.
Skilled El Paso Identity Theft Attorney
If you or a loved one are facing state or federal identity theft charges in Texas, turned to a skilled Texas identity theft defense attorney as soon as possible. An identity theft conviction can have serious consequences, including substantial fines, restitution, and the potential for significant prison time. You need a relentless advocate who will fight for you, your family, your freedom, and your future.
Based in El Paso, the Benjamin Law Firm offers a wide range of criminal defense services with a special focus on white collar crime defense, along with comprehensive civil litigation and aviation law services. Our team has decades of experience in the field and a proven track record of results for clients across Texas.
Founding Attorney Brock Morgan Benjamin is one of few attorneys who is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, making him a true expert in criminal defense. While many attorneys practice within the field of criminal defense, few truly specialize in it like Attorney Benjamin. Moreover, Attorney Benjamin is a former prosecutor with insider knowledge of the tactics and strategies that prosecutors use to secure convictions. He uses this knowledge to mount the most effective defense possible for each and every one of our clients.
Contact us today or call us at (915)-221-7462 so we can get started fighting for you. ¡También podemos ayudarte en español!
Posted in: Identity Theft