Identity Theft Definition
Identify theft is a category of serious criminal charges that revolve around allegations that the accused person pretended to be a victim. Identity theft charges are usually financial in nature.
These cases frequently involve allegations of the use of personal information to access bank accounts, obtain credit cards, or charge purchases.
Identity Theft Charges, Penalties, & Punishment
Identity theft charges can come in State and Federal Court – and both State and Federal prosecutors have made it a major focus of their offices. The Minnesota House of Representatives called identify theft “one of the fastest growing crimes in the country.” The United States Department of Justice called identity theft “one of the most pervasive forms of white collar crimes in the United States.” The recent rash of data breaches and other financial crimes have reinforced prosecutors’ aggressive approaches.
In Federal Court, identity theft charges often go hand-in-hand with other white-collar crimes. For example, someone who makes fake credit cards attached to a real person’s bank account and then makes purchases with those cards can be charged with both wire fraud under 18 USC § 1343 and aggravated identity theft under 18 USC § 1028A. “Aggravated identity theft” convictions are very harsh because they carry a mandatory additional sentence of two years that must be imposed in addition to any sentence the judge imposes in the cases – and must run consecutively to other sentences. Federal charges are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office and typically investigated by the FBI, the Secret Service, and the U.S. postal investigators.
Identity Theft in Minnesota
In Minnesota Court, identify theft is covered under Minn. Stat. § 609.527, which defines “identity” to include a person’s name, social security number, date of birth, driver’s license number, passport numbers, employer or taxpayer identification numbers, bank account numbers, and even cellphone numbers. The statute is very broad. Unlike federal prosecutions for identity theft, there is a very broad range of possible penalties for convictions. Depending on the specifics of the case, identity theft can be anything from a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail to a felony with a maximum punishment of a $100,000 fine and a 20-year prison sentence.
In State or Federal Court, a careful and experienced lawyer can help avoid some of the traps that can catch lawyers and people accused off guard. Contact us today.
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