In recent years, the internet has become an essential aspect of our everyday lives. We rely on it to pay our bills, use it for mobile banking, and has access to our personal information. With all this information out there on the world wide web, the threat of identity theft is higher than ever. In fact, identity theft affects millions of American families every year. 2017’s Equifax breach saw one of the biggest dissemination of personal information for criminal use ever, with 145 million Americans affected by it. For Floridians, identity theft is one of the most common types of economic lawsuits. In 2017, Florida was the fourth-highest state affected by Identity Theft, following California as the first, Rhode Island second, and the District of Columbia as third. The penalties for committing identity theft are harsh. If you are currently facing identity theft charges, it is imperative that you seek experienced identity theft defense lawyer for your case.
Types of Identity Theft Crimes in Florida
Florida has many laws pertaining to identity theft crime in all it’s forms. Types of identity theft include:
If someone uses another person’s identity in order to attain property, such as mail or postage, it is considered larceny. Under Florida theft law, the penalties for larceny range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on how much and what the property in question was.
Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information
Using another person’s identification information without consent of the individual who’s information is being used is considered a third-degree felony. This is considered a crime when the information is used to collect money, property, or any other benefit or materials. Personal identification information is considered to be a name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, or any related information. If personal identification information was used to attain property valuing $5,000 or more, or involves 10 to 19 victims, it can be considered a second-degree felony. Use of personal identification information to attain $50,000 or more and involving 20 or more victims can result in a first-degree felony with a mandatory 10-year imprisonment.
Criminal Use of Personal Information to Harass
If an individual uses another person’s personal information, without consent, to harass that individual, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. If this is committed, the charges can result in up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Furthermore, if the personal information used was information available in a public record, the charge can go up one degree.
Use of a Minor’s Personal Identification Information
This case involves using the personal identification of an individual under the age of 18, without receiving the consent of the individual or their legal parent or guardian(s). This is considered a second-degree felony, punishable with up to five years in prison, five years on probation, and a fine of up to $5,000. Furthermore, if a parent or guardian were to use the minor’s personal identification information without the minor’s consent, it can also be considered fraudulent and a second-degree felony.
Use or Possession of a Deceased Person’s Personal Identification Information
Anyone who is found to use, or is found possessing with intent to use, a deceased person’s identification to commit fraud commits a third-degree felony. If an amount of $5,000 is involved in the theft, or if 10 to 20 deceased individuals are involved, penalties can elevate to second-degree felony with a mandatory minimum of three years imprisonment. Moreover, if the amount involved totals to $50,000 or more, and involved 20 to 30 deceased persons, it can be considered a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum of 10 years imprisonment.
Counterfeit of Fictitious Personal Identification Information
Using a fake individual’s personal identification information, or using counterfeit information pertaining to a real individual, is considered a third-degree felony. Counterfeit or fake personal identification can be used in a number of different ways, including to commit crimes or collect social security benefits. In these instances, a number of different laws apply and can elevate the degree to up to life felonies.
Restitution for Identity Theft Crimes in Florida
According to Florida State Statute 775.089, the courts may demand a defendant to pay restitution to victims and their families. In addition to the amount of money or property that was involved in the case, external fees such as attorney fees, clearing the victim’s credit history, and any debt incurred during the theft can be included in restitution. Depending on the amount involved, this can amount to thousands of dollars.
Contact Pinellas Criminal Law For Your Identity Theft Defense Case
If you are facing identity theft charges, you are facing many strict and harsh penalties that could stay on your record forever. It is important that you seek experienced legal representation for your case. The most important aspect when defending identity theft cases is pre-trial preparation and making sure all relevant information to the case has been disclosed. Our team of experienced attorneys at Pinellas Criminal Law will make sure to use all our resources to help negotiate your charges. Contact us today!