Identity theft is a serious crime, no matter how minor a benefit was gained by the offender. If you have been charged with identity theft, you need to act quickly. To fight this type of charge, you should have a resourceful San Diego identity theft lawyer on your side. Attorney Roseline D. Feral understands that dealing with a criminal investigation or charge can be daunting, but she is ready to give your case the attention and dedication that it deserves. Like prosecutions for fraud and other white collar crimes, these cases are often more complex than they appear at first glance. This makes it especially important to enlist an attorney who knows the full range of options at a defendant’s disposal.Fighting Charges of Identity Theft
Identity theft is a white collar crime. White collar crimes typically refer to financially motivated, nonviolent crimes that are committed by professionals, public officials, and other citizens. Identity theft is a major problem in the United States. According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy Research, about $16 billion was stolen from a total of 15.4 million American consumers in 2016, compared to $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims in the prior year. In the last six years, over $107 billion has been stolen.
Identity theft can consist of a range of actions, but it always involves an individual using the personal information of another party without permission to obtain some sort of benefit. Under California Penal Code § 530.5, the crime of identity theft covers anyone who wilfully obtains the personally identifying information of another person without that person’s permission and uses it for an unlawful purpose. An unlawful purpose includes obtaining credit, buying goods or services, purchasing real estate, or obtaining medical information. The law also covers anyone who obtains and then sells another person’s identifying information. It is important to note that it is possible to steal a deceased person’s identity as well.
In identity theft cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant wilfully obtained the personal identity information of another party to use it for an unlawful purpose, without the victim’s consent. An identity theft attorney can help San Diego residents charged with this crime determine which elements of the case to attack.
There may be a number of defenses that may apply in your case, such as:
- No fraudulent intent: your attorney could argue that you did not obtain another person’s information with the intention of committing a crime. For example, if you mistakenly picked up your friend’s credit card and purchased an item because you thought that the card was yours, you would not have the required intent needed to establish identity theft.
- Lack of unlawful purpose: your attorney could argue that you did not use the victim’s personal identifying information for any unlawful purpose. For example, perhaps you acquired someone’s credit card information but did not use it. Merely having someone’s personal information is not enough to establish identity theft. Instead, it must be used to benefit the defendant in some way.
- Interactive computer service or software provider: Federal law specifically exempts interactive computer services or software providers, unless they sell or transfer the information with the intent to commit fraud. As a result, if the defendant is a computer services or access software provider, they can often prove that there was no fraudulent intent.
Identity theft charges are serious charges and should not be taken lightly. If you have been charged with identity theft, you need to reach out to a skilled attorney who can assess the merits of your case. We represent people in San Diego, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista, among other Southern California cities. To learn more about your rights and options, you can contact us online or by phone at 619-232-1010. You can also reach Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191 if you need to speak with an identity theft lawyer in San Diego or obtain guidance regarding a more conventional type of theft charge, such as shoplifting or burglary.