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Identity Theft

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 name of the other person without consent. 

Identity Theft Lawyer

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 $1,000 maximum fine, or both; or imprisonment in state prison, $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 the illegally obtained personal information of another person 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.  If there is a question about that in making my evaluation, one of the first things I turn to are the jury instructions because that's exactly what's going to happen and 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 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, 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, and 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're going to be holding the bag or the person's credit is going to be damaged and the other party is going to get the goods that they went after, and that's really 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 make sense.  If no one had consent and they're 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.  Go buy something with it, or your boyfriend or girlfriend or significant other let you use their credit card and you had 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 your credit card in order 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 or security or fraud department calls this person or corporation and says, you guys purchased ten phones.  It's $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 on 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 and a lot of times their credit is damaged.  So, prosecutors and judges are looking at that and seeing what type of damage there is that's caused by the defendant's actions 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.

At the Hedding Law Firm, we have the skill and qualifications to fight your case on your behalf. Contact a Los Angeles Identity theft lawyer at our office so we can answer all your legal questions and explain how we can defend you.

Will You Go To Jail For California PC 530.5 Identity Theft?

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