Identity theft is all over the news, but so are identity theft prosecutions and convictions. If you have been charged with a violation of California Penal Code 530.5, retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is highly recommended. Aside from doing irreparable harm to your reputation and future, an identity theft conviction is punishable by incarceration and financial penalties.
California Penal Code Section 530.5
California enacted Penal Code Section 530.5 in response to identity theft crimes. The use of another person’s identifying information to commit an unlawful act can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the nature of the crime and the criminal background of the defendant. The unauthorized use of identifying information to obtain goods, services, property or credit has increased dramatically in recent years.
Instances of identity theft, including using the credit card information or signing the name of another person, can be used to obtain a financial benefit or avoid criminal liability. Penal Code 530.5 specifically outlaws the following forms of identity theft:
- Intentionally obtaining the identifying information of another person without authorization to commit an unlawful act
- The unauthorized acquisition of another person’s identifying information to commit fraud
- Providing, transferring or selling the identifying information of another person in an unauthorized manner to commit an intentional fraud
- Providing, transferring or selling identifying information with full knowledge that the information will be used to commit an act of fraud
Identity Theft Defense
If you didn’t actually use the identifying information of another person to commit an unlawful act, an experienced criminal defense attorney will take immediate action to clear your name. The prosecution is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted with criminal intent. This is a high legal standard to establish in court. Finally, many identity theft prosecutions are based on an instance of mistaken identity or false accusations.
Make no mistake, the available punishment for a PC 530.5 conviction is rather severe. Identity theft is known in legal circles as a wobbler offense since it can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony. A felony conviction could saddle you with a three-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Even a misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.
A criminal prosecution for identity theft demands a thorough investigation by a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Only an experienced defense lawyer is qualified to investigate pending criminal charges and protect the constitutional rights of a criminal defendant. The involvement of a criminal defense attorney from the very beginning of an identity theft investigation can greatly increase the odds of avoiding a criminal prosecution or conviction.
Please contact our law firm to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. Speaking with an experienced identity theft lawyer will provide you with an opportunity to tell your side of the story and understand the legal options that are available to you under California law. Never give chance an opportunity to destroy your reputation and future. Call our law office today to schedule an appointment and learn how we can assist you and your family.