California Penal Code 530.5 PC describes the crime of identity theft as taking a person's personal identifying information without their consent and using it in a fraudulent manner.
The personal identifying information includes:
- a person's name and address,
- social security numbers,
- driver's license number,
- bank account information,
- credit card numbers
- PIN numbers,
- mother's maiden name,
- birth or death certificate information.
This statute is a “wobbler” offense that the prosecutor can file as either a misdemeanor or felony.
PC 530.5 defines identity theft as:
- “Any person who willfully obtains personal identifying information of someone and uses it for any unlawful purpose, including obtaining, or the attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, real property, or medical information without consent.”
Fraud means a deliberate act designed to secure an unlawful gain or to cause someone to suffer a financial loss.
However, in order for a prosecutor to prove someone violated Penal Code 530.5 identity theft laws, they do not have to prove someone was actually defrauded or sustained a loss.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will review this statute more closely below.
What Are The Penalties for PC 530.5 Identity Theft?
Penal Code 530.5 identity theft is charged as a wobbler offense meaning they can file the case as a misdemeanor or felony. Penalties will depend on prior convictions and the severity of the crime.
If convicted of misdemeanor identity theft, it's punishable by:
- up to one year in county jail,
- a fine up to $1,000,
- summary probation.
If convicted of felony identity theft, the penalties include:
- up to three years in a county jail,
- a fine up to $10,000,
- formal probation.
What are the related California crimes?
Penal Code 484e PC – credit card fraud,
Penal Code 470 PC – forgery,
Penal Code 476 PC – check fraud,
Penal Code 529 PC – false personation,
Paying Victim Restitution to Avoid Jail Time for Identity Theft
California is a mecca for identity theft, especially in Los Angeles. There are all sorts of scams are going on where people are stealing other people's identity in various scams and schemes in LA County.
One thing I can tell you for sure having defended thousands of identity theft related offenses over the years is that prosecutors, the police and judges hate identity thieves.
This is definitely one crime they'll try to put you in jail and even prison if they're able to in order to punish and to protect the public, including themselves.
That is the framework you have to look at these cases from, which is, the prosecutors and judges, when they deal with these cases, are putting themselves in the shoes of the victim.
So, the first thing they're going to want to do is get the victim made whole again. In other words, they want to make sure, whoever the victim is of an identity theft scheme, is compensation, which is commonly known as victim restitution.
If we can compensate the person who is the victim of the crime, we start to put ourselves in a good position to avoid jail or prison time.
The next thing that prosecutors and judges will look at in determining whether somebody goes to jail is their criminal record.
If the person has a criminal record for identity theft, or some sort of theft offense, or something that is very similar to the type of crime they're being prosecuted for, then you can bet your bottom dollar that the judges and prosecutors will be trying to do everything they can to put that person into jail or prison and try to keep them there as long as possible.
Defending Penal Code 530.5 Identity Theft Cases
So, if you or a loved one is charged with identity theft in California, it's important that you get an attorney who's going to look out for you and going to try to make sure that you don't end up with a lengthy jail or prison sentence.
You've come to the right place. I've got a number of strategies that can be utilized in identity theft-related offenses. The first thing we need to do is:
- meet and talk about what happened,
- why it happened,
- figure out what the law says, and
- what, if anything, we can do to keep you out of jail or prison.
Many of my clients want to look into whether or not they can actually defend their identity theft fraud case.
Of course, any great criminal defense attorney is going to look to see if you have a defense, but in these types of cases, you're certainly not going to be able to manufacture a defense.
The defense would have to flow naturally — would have to make sense, an obviously, you'd either have to be innocent or the prosecutors would have to have problems proving the case for a certain reason.
Some of the most common defenses against identity theft charges include:
- lack of intent to defraud,
- not a willful act,
- no unlawful purpose.
Initial Strategy Session to Discuss Case
What I like to do is have you come into my office and we sit down and go over all the details. I encourage you to be honest and give me all of the facts, not just the facts that you want to give because they help you.
I need the facts that are going to be used to try to convict you because that way we can really ascertain whether or not you have a defense or not.
If you do have a defense, either we take the case to trial or we do a preliminary hearing and try to get the case dismissed, or we file some sort of a motion if a motion is applicable in your case to try to get rid of the case.
Obviously, if you're found not guilty or the case gets dismissed then you don't have to worry about doing any jail time.
But remember. The deck is stacked against you if you have an identity theft case in California because there are so many identity theft cases and even the people who are prosecuting these cases are being touched.
I really feel that a lot of times they take these cases personally. So, just bear that in mind when you're dealing with them.
So, I would say, of all cases that you could use an attorney for, an identity theft criminal case is definitely one of them. California is plagued by identity theft and has been for many years.
But now, with the various scams that are available to people once they steal your identity, it's unbelievable how much is going on and how difficult it is for authorities to keep up with it.
So, when they do actually catch somebody, they're going to do everything they can to make sure they're punished.
Contact Our Law Firm for Help
So, if you're looking for an attorney who has a lot of experience, you've come to the right place. I've been doing this for 30 years.
I've worked for the prosecutors; I've worked for a Superior Court judge and I've been a criminal defense attorney defending identity theft-related offenses since 1994.
You can see you've come to the right place. I've got the skill. I've got the know-how to get you the best result. Pick up the phone now and contact the Hedding Law Firm at (213) 542-0979. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.