Identity theft is an increasingly common crime in the computer era. Credit card, bank and other highly sensitive financial information is hidden behind nothing more than a password, a firewall and some basic encryption, making this crime all the more tempting. Lawmakers and prosecutors have also made identity theft a greater target, with substantial jail or prison sentences and potentially massive financial penalties.
If you are facing identity theft charges in the Pennsylvania area, call Brian Manchester, an experienced identity theft defense attorney in Pennsylvania. Call today. It is important to start working on your defense right away.
Identity Theft Defined in Pennsylvania
It is a crime in Pennsylvania to possess or use the identifying information of another person without that person’s consent in order to further an unlawful purpose. This is known as identity theft, and it typically involves the theft of money, such as a hacker who steals Social Security numbers, bank data and other personal information in order to drain a victim’s checking account. Identity theft is not new, but it has taken on new forms in recent years, most of them online. Typically, identity theft is used to commit acts of credit card fraud or similar crimes. In Pennsylvania, each time a person uses another person’s identity in furtherance of an unlawful act, it is considered a separate act of identity theft, carrying separate penalties.
Identity Theft Penalties in Pennsylvania
Penalties for identity theft in Pennsylvania depend on the amount stolen, the purpose of the identity theft, the alleged offender’s prior record and the age of the victim. Where the amount of the property stolen is valued at less than $2,000, identity theft is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by as many as five years in prison. Where property valued at more than $2,000 is involved, the crime is a third-degree felony carrying a penalty of as many as seven years. Similarly, where the identity theft is used to further any kind of criminal conspiracy, it is a third-degree felony punishable by as many as seven years. A third or subsequent conviction for theft is a second-degree felony carrying as many as 10 years. Any act of identity theft committed against a victim 60 years old or older bumps the offense level up one grade, so a first-degree misdemeanor become a third-degree felony, a third-degree felony becomes a second-degree felony, and so on. In addition to criminal penalties, a convicted identity thief can be ordered to make restitution to his victim, including repaying the victim for the cost of investigating the identity theft, the cost of bringing or defending court actions, and the cost of other actions taken to correct the victim’s record or credit report. This can include attorney’s fees, accountant’s fees and credit bureau fees among other costs. Identity theft offenders are also subject to substantial money damages in civil court.
Federal Identity Theft in Pennsylvania
Identity theft is also covered by federal law. Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, It is a federal crime to knowing transfer or use another person’s identification with the intent to commit, aid or abet activity that violates federal law or constitutes a felony under state law. This is punishable by as many as 15 years in prison in most cases. Other federal statutes may also apply, such as laws against identification fraud, credit card fraud, and mail and wire fraud.
If you or a loved one are in the Pennsylvania area and have been charged with identity theft, call Brian Manchester, an experienced identity theft defense lawyer in Pennsylvania. He can help you build the defense you need today.