Pennsylvania state law defines identity theft as the possession or use of another person’s identifying information for an unlawful purpose without his or her consent. This white collar crime is considered a serious offense in the state of Pennsylvania, and thus, carries severe consequences. At the law firm of Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. we are often asked about identity theft charges. As such, we will discuss the grades of this offense, as well as the potential penalties you could face if convicted. To learn more about white collar crimes and what you should do if you’re charged with one, click here.
What Are the Different Forms of Identity Theft?
While there are many forms of identity theft, the most common include:
- Internet crimes
- Forgery, or falsifying or altering documents
- Writing bad checks from accounts that knowingly have insufficient funds
- Credit card fraud or skimming (obtaining credit card information at point of purchase)
Credit card fraud, for example, can include two different types of theft: account takeover and application fraud. An account takeover is when someone is able to take over another’s personal information to use their credit card. Application fraud involves opening up an account under someone else’s name with fraudulent information. According to Pennsylvania law, if the value of goods that were stolen equal less than $50, the individual will likely face a second-degree misdemeanor charge and may face up to two years in prison. It’s important to note that if multiple credit cards were used, these will result in individual charges. If, for example, you used three different credit cards in these transactions, you will be facing three individual charges.
Types of Identity Theft
To date, there are multiple types of identity theft. The most common include:
- Social security theft – this involves using someone else’s social security number, which may involve redirecting someone’s direct deposit benefits to their own account
- Tax identity theft – this often involves stealing someone else’s tax refund or claiming someone as a dependent to get more money
- Taking over existing accounts – this involves using someone else’s information to make purchases on someone’s existing store credit card
- Criminal identity theft – this involves giving someone else’s identifying information to law enforcement in lieu of your own
If you have been charged with any of the above scenarios, it’s imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the best recourse.
Penalties for Identity Theft in Pennsylvania
The potential penalties you could face, if convicted of identity theft in Pennsylvania, vary based on the value of the property or services you allegedly obtained using someone else’s identifying information. With few exceptions, state law stipulates that you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor if the total value of the property or services involved in this white collar crime is under $2,000. If you are convicted of this offense, you could be fined up to $10,000 and be sentenced to serve as many as five years in prison. The age of the alleged victim may also impact the grade of the offense you could be charged with. Under state law, the offense will be graded one higher than the generally specified offense in cases when the alleged victim is over 60-years old or under 18-years old.
When the total value of the involved property exceeds $2,000, the charges you could face may be enhanced. In these cases, you may be charged with a third-degree felony. In Pennsylvania, a third degree felony charge can result in a fine of up to $15,000, up to seven years imprisonment or both. These are also the same penalties you may be facing if your alleged identity theft is related to a criminal conspiracy. A criminal conspiracy is a plan to commit a crime, regardless of whether or not that crime was seen to fruition. Criminal conspiracy falls under a third-degree felony charge.
Penalties for Subsequent Identity Theft Charges in Pennsylvania
If this is your third or subsequent identity theft offense, then you will be charged with a second-degree felony offense. The potential penalties for a second-degree felony charge include a fine of up to $25,000 as well as a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Is There a Difference Between Identity Theft and Identity Fraud?
When people hear the terms “identity theft” and “identity fraud,” they refer to them interchangeably. The U.S. Department of Justice refers to both terms as “all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”
Whether you were charged with identity theft or identity fraud, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania attorney can help you. Your defense attorney will investigate the details of your case and work with you to develop a defense strategy that is tailored to your best interest. The attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. are available to take your call for a consultation.
Contact an Experienced Newtown Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Identity Theft Charges In Pennsylvania
Have you been charged with identity theft in Pennsylvania? A criminal conviction can carry with it heavy fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension! That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer about your case. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. represent clients charged with identity theft and other types of white collar crimes in Doylestown, Lansdale, King of Prussia, Norristown, and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Call (215) 822-7575 or fill out our confidential online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office located at 2605 N. Broad St., Colmar, PA 18915, in addition to an office located in Newtown, PA.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.