IDENTITY THEFT CHARGES IN PA
Identity Theft is a growing problem in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, impacting banks, businesses and individuals. Considered a white collar crime, identity theft is actively investigated by specialized law enforcement agencies who have the resources necessary to track internet activity and trace it back to the internet protocol (IP) address. Many cases are being forwarded to the Secret Service for review.
If you are facing identity theft charges, there may be detailed records that will be used against you in a court of law. If you are facing an identity theft charge, you may best suited to hire a criminal defense lawyer with experience prosecuting similar cases.
WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity Theft under Title 18 Section 4120 occurs when a person uses or possesses the identifying information of another person without their consent, and use this information for an illegal purpose.
Identity theft is most commonly charged when a person uses someone else's name, social security number, date of birth or other information to open up credit cards, loans, or other accounts. Identity theft can also be charged for using someone's credit card numbers over the internet to make purchases, or for using someone else's identity after being arrested.
HOW SERIOUS ARE MY IDENTITY THEFT CHARGES?
Identity theft charges are graded as follows:
- 1st Degree Misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 5 years in prison if the total value of property or services obtained is less than $2,000
- 3rd Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 7 years in prison if the total value of property or services exceeds $2,000 or the offense is part of a conspiracy, regardless of the value of services
- 2nd Degree Felony: Punishable by up to 10 years in prison if the offense is a 3rd or subsequent offense
- Enhanced Penalties: If the victim is less than 18 years of age, 60 years of age or older, or is a care-dependent person, then the grading moves up by one grade (i.e. 3rd Degree Felony becomes 2nd Degree Felony).
If you have used someone's identifying information on multiple occasions, the prosecution can charge you separately for each offense, or add up the total loss for one cumulative charge.
HOW ARE IDENTITY THEFT CASES PROVEN?
In proving an identity theft case, proof typically requires the presentation of different types of evidence, including electronic data. Common examples of evidence used by the prosecution to prove charges include:
- The Defendant's own admissions to the illegal use of another's personal information;
- An eyewitness, such as a bank teller or store clerk, who personally observes the illegal use of another's information;
- IP address tracing, computer records and data from seized electronic devices, which establish the illegal use of a person's identifying information;
- The seizure of merchandise and receipts for goods purchased illegally using a victim's identifying information;
- The seizure of fake ID cards, credit cards, checks, or other documentation with a connection to the victim of identity theft;
- The person whose identifying information was used testifies in court that he or she did not give permission to use his or her personal information.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I'M BEING INVESTIGATED FOR OR HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH IDENTITY THEFT?
If you're under investigation for identity theft, you should remain silent and speak with a lawyer immediately. Identity theft is a serious offense in Pennsylvania, where you could face prison time along with hefty fines and restitution.
Don't talk to the police, talk to us now! For a free consultation, call former identity theft prosecutor Dave Zuckerman of the Zuckerman Law Firm at 412-447-5580. We can review the evidence and accusations against you, working to build your defense to these charges.