identity theft in california

We use the terms “identity theft” and “identity fraud” referring to crimes in which the offender wrongfully obtains and uses another’s personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception. Generally, the purpose of such act is to obtain some economic gain.
Federal and state laws govern identity theft in USA. Mainly, the crime is defined as an act including the intent to use another’s identity to commit any unlawful act. Oftentimes, people find out about strange charges on their credit cards or application for a loan too late. What to do in order not to become a victim of offenders?
Below, The Margarian Law Firm  will introduce you the main elements of the California Identity Theft. In the resources of our site you can find detailed information about various types of commission of fraud crimes in California.

1. Legal Definition of the Identity Theft in California
2. Criminal Elements of the Identity Theft
3. Punishment of Identity Theft
4. Legal Defenses to California Identity Fraud Accusations
5. Related offenses

In addition, we are ready to provide answers to your initial questions concerning fraud charges in California for free.

You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000

1. Legal Definition of the Identity Theft in California

Identity theft is a form of stealing someone’s identity while the offender obtains personal identifying information of a victim, and uses that information for any unlawful purpose, including obtaining, or attempting to obtain, credit, goods, services, real property, or medical information without the consent of that person.

2. Criminal Elements of the Identity Theft

What does it mean “identifying information”? Under the term “Identity”, we understand any information to identify a specific individual, including any of the following:
– Name;
– Date of birth;
– Social Security number;
– Driver’s license number;
– Financial services account numbers;
– Credit or debit card numbers;
– Personal identification numbers (PIN);
– Electronic identification codes;
– Automated or electronic signatures;
– Biometric data;
– Fingerprints;
– Passwords;
– Parent’s legal surname prior to marriage.

The legislator outlines 4 types of identity theft which can be punishable under California Penal Code Section 530.5.

Firstly, the theft must be committed wilfully and the offender has to have the intent to use that information for any unlawful purpose, such as taking money from credit card, taking another’s property and so on.

To be guilty under California Penal Code Section 530.5, the defendant must willfully obtain personal identifying information of another person, and use the identifying information for an unlawful purpose without the person’s consent.[1] In other words, the word “willfully” can be used in the law as a synonym for ‘intentionally[2], and, consequently, it means that the offender knows what he is doing, intends to do what he is doing and is a free agent.
Example: if you log in another’s Facebook account in order to get some information that can be used against that person. It means that you are guilty of California Identity Theft.

It should be taken that the motive is not an element of the crime charged and have not to be shown. For example, the court does not take into consideration why the offender used your name in order to conclude a bargain with a partner company.

3. Punishment of Identity Theft

California Identity Theft is a wobbler, it means that the prosecutor can charge the offender whether with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the crime as well as taking into consideration the criminal history of the person.
If a person is charged with a misdemeanor, he or she can be subjected to:
– One(1) year in county jail;
– A fine up to $ 1000;
– Or both of them.
If convicted of a felony, you can face up to three (3) years in the state prison and a fine up to $10000.
A person charged with federal identity theft law can face increased fines and sentencing in federal prison up to thirty (30) years.

4. Legal Defenses to California Fraud Accusations

The prevention is the best policy to evade such unexpected surprises.
An experienced and professional California defense attorney can use various legal defenses in order to reduce or dismiss your charge. Below, we represent some of them.
False confessions
False accusations
Plea bargain and dismissals
– Etc.

5. Related offenses

Fraud Offense

Insurance Fraud

Mail Fraud

Credit Fraud

Security Fraud

Telemarketing Fraud

Wire Fraud

Tax Evasion

Mortgage Fraud


Have identity theft questions about your specific circumstances?

We are a client-centered professional law firm. When The Margarian Law Firm  accepts your California fraud case, you can put your mind at ease. We handle every aspect of your case, from the very start through the very last court hearing, all for a flat fee agreed upon before we begin. Do not hesitate to contact us!

You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000

[1] People v. Tillotson ((2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 517, 533.)

[2] People v. Lewis ((2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 837, 852)

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