Identity Theft Laws in California - Penal Code 530.5
Identity theft has become very common, and the federal government is closely monitoring the crime of identity theft. If you are facing identity theft charges, contact our California criminal defense lawyers, and we will immediately get on your case and strive to get you the best possible results.
California Penal Code Section 530.5 describes Identity theft as when a person knowingly uses personally identifying information of another person to obtain benefit (credit, goods, services, etc.) in the other person's name without consent.
The People must prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt to find the person guilty of this type of theft crime.
Identity theft is a criminal offense that can result in imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or a $1,000 maximum fine, or both; or imprisonment in state prison, a $10,000 maximum fine, or both.
Not only can the actual thief be punished, but anyone who is guilty of receiving, transferring, or holding onto another person's illegally obtained personal information can also be punished by a fine and/or jail time.
Identify theft is a type of cybercrime that is very prevalent throughout society now, and it's imperative if you're charged with identity theft you want to get a seasoned criminal defense attorney to represent you and help guide you through the process.
It might be possible to avoid jail time for a PC 530.5 identity theft conviction, but it will depend on different factors, such as paying victim restitution.
California Identity Theft Jury Instructions
What I look at first when I talk about identity theft, I'm trying to figure out if they have the evidence against my client or not. Suppose there is a question about that in making my evaluation. In that case, one of the first things I turn to is the jury instructions because that's exactly what's going to happen. The case moves forward, and the person doesn't want to plea bargain with the prosecutors, they're going to go to trial. So, we need to know what the prosecutors have to prove or what we have to disprove or defend when it comes to an identity theft charge in one of the Los Angeles courtrooms.
CALCRIM Jury Instruction 2040 talks about the unauthorized use of personal identifying information. So, this is the jury instruction that the Judicial Counsel of California came up with when somebody is charged with the crime of identity theft. It basically talks about Penal Code Section 530.5(a), and it says:
That defendant is charged (whatever Count it is) with unauthorized use of someone else's personal identifying information. Obviously, that's identity theft.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the government, the people, and the prosecutors must :
- The defendant willfully obtained someone else's personal identifying information.
They're going to have to show that you took someone else's information. Of course, you're going to have the intent to do something with it. But, if you're walking around with someone's I.D. with your picture on it, they're starting to get a good case against you.
- The defendant willfully used that information for an unlawful purpose.
This usually happens when somebody is going into a store or some sort of a location to try to buy goods or services, and they're using somebody else's I.D.
They're using somebody else's information — their credit card. They're now going to make this huge purchase, get an item, and then when the payments aren't made on it and when the credit card company realizes its theft, they going to be holding the bag or the person's credit is going to be damaged. The other party will get the goods they went after, and that's the crime of identity theft.
The third element that the government is going to have to prove is:
- Did the defendant use the information without the consent of the other person whose identifying information they were using?
So, that makes sense. If no one had consent and they were using someone else's credit card or a fake I.D., obviously, that would be identity theft. But, on the other hand, someone said, go use my credit card. Buy something with it, or if your boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other let you use their credit card, and you have their permission, then that's not identity theft.
Using Witnesses To Prove No Consent
They're going to have a witness come in and say there was a purchase made at Macy*s for $10,000 for a Rolex watch. Did you authorize someone to use your name and credit card to do that? And, of course, the other party's going to say, no, I would never authorize that type of stuff.
The jury instruction also talks about personal identifying information means or is the equivalent means, and it talks about Penal Code Section 530.55(b) and gives a definition of that, and then it says, as used here, a person means a human being whether living or dead or a firm, association, organization, partnership, business, trust, company, corporation, limited liability company, public entity — so, they're talking about these situations where people are using someone's corporate information.
Let's say they want to buy a bunch of phones from Verizon. They're going to get thousands of dollars worth of phones, and they're going to use somebody else's corporate identity to do that. They'll make a few little payments on it, and they'll keep the phones or sell the phones, or they'll do whatever they're going to do, and they're using somebody else's information.
When it comes time to pay those bills down the line, they don't pay. Now Verizon, or whatever the company is, is out a bunch of money, and there's nobody left to go after because this corporation is going to say, we don't know anything about it.
Verizon's loss prevention, security, or fraud department calls this person or corporation and says, " You guys purchased ten phones. It was $10,000. Nobody's making the payments — what's going on? And they're going to say, we didn't do that. We have nothing to do with that. So now, Verizon, or whatever company it is, is going to be left holding the bag of that theft.
Skilled Lawyer Seeking Best Possible Outcome
Identity theft is serious, not just because it's being done all over the place, but because money is lost and, probably more importantly, somebody's identity is taken. A lot of times, their credit is damaged. So, prosecutors and judges are looking at that and seeing what type of damage there is the defendant's actions cause, and they're going to punish the person with that.
So, if you're charged with identity theft or taking someone's information and using it, causing a huge loss, get to an attorney as fast as possible. I have you come in. You lay out everything. We see what the government can and can't prove, and then I'm going to guide you through the system and try to get you out of it as fast as possible.
How to Get the Best Result in an Identity Theft Case?
Many people charged with identity theft, either at the state or federal level, face prison time. The reason for this is that this is such a seriously high-level crime as far as prosecutors, police, and judges are concerned because you're taking information from people who are innocent and using it to your advantage.
Not only do people lose money, but they also lose their reputation when their information is exposed, and a bad mark is potentially placed on their record through no fault of their own. This is a very serious crime; if you want to handle it correctly, you want to get with a seasoned criminal defense attorney.
I have you come and sit in my office, and we go over everything, and we put together a plan designed specifically for you, and we're going to look at your criminal record.
Hopefully, you have no criminal record. If you do, we'll figure out how to differentiate that record from what's happening now. We will also examine what damage you may or may not have caused.
If you've caused no damage, or if we can fix the damage caused by paying the victims back, that might be a way to go, depending on how we decide to deal with the case.
Fight the Case or Negotiate with the Prosecutor?
The first question is, will we fight the case and say that you're innocent and they cannot prove the case against you, or will we try to find a resolution?
Suppose we try to work out some deal and mitigate the case. In that case, I'll put together a package for you to present to the prosecutors showing how we're going to move on with the case forward to help the victim in the case and show the good things about you, which are usually not taken into consideration in these identity theft cases.
Usually, I see a one-sided investigation geared towards the fact that they think the person is guilty. Therefore, everything they find in every act they see indicates somebody guilty of California Penal Code 530.5 PC identity theft.
However, sometimes some things are not criminal, and they don't have all the correct information about the case. That's my job as your attorney. I put my 30 years of experience to work for you.
Contact our Law Firm for a Case Review
I know what it takes to get a successful result. I know what it takes to beat the case if they don't have the evidence against you, and I know what it takes to mitigate and negotiate the case if they do have the evidence against you.
So, I suggest picking up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. Many times we can give you a quote over the phone. Also, my office manager will usually talk to you. He's been working for me for over 20 years.
He'll give you good information about how the court system works, depending on which courthouse your case is, and what we can do to help you.
Then he'll set things up to meet with you so we can tackle this and take the first step towards getting you out of the criminal justice system. You're going to feel food once you meet with me. We talk about the case, and we start to get control of the case.