California Identity Theft Law & Defense
Penal Code 530.5
Identity theft is one the fastest growing crimes in America. To curb the growing number of Identity theft crimes, law enforcement agencies and law makers have created new and harsher penalties for all identity theft crimes, including crimes associated with identity theft.
Most identity theft crimes are charged under California penal code 530.5. The term identity theft is commonly used to describe the taking of another person's money or credit by fraud; however, identity theft crimes are actually titled unauthorized use of personal identifying information because acquiring another person's money or property is not actually an element of the offense.
For the prosecutor to prove that a defendant is guilty of identity theft, or unauthorized use of personal identifying information, pursuant to PC 530.5, the prosecutor must prove all of the following:
- The defendant willfully obtained someone else's personal identifying information,
- The defendant willfully used that information for unlawful purpose, and
- The defendant used the information without the consent of the person whose identifying information the defendant was using.
Personal identifying information includes just about anything that actually identifies the person. The list of what can be considered personal identifying information includes, but is not limited to: a person's name, address, telephone number, health insurance number, taxpayer identification number, school identification number, state or federal driver’s license, or identification number, social security number, place of employment, employee identification number, professional or occupational number, mother’s maiden name, demand deposit account number, savings account number, checking account number, PIN (personal identification number) or password, information contained in a birth or death certificate, or credit card number of an individual person, or an equivalent form of identification (PC 530.55(b)).
In addition, the victim of identity theft does not have to actually be a human being. Corporations, businesses, firms, associations, and public entities may also be considered a person for purposes of identity theft law (PC 530.55(a))
Note: It is not necessary that the defendant actually received a financial benefit or that anyone was actually harmed by the defendant's identity theft (such as the case of a deceased person). In fact, the entire crime of identity theft is complete if the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that all three of the above elements are true.
Sentence & Punishment for Identity Theft (PC 530.5)
The most common identity theft charge is PC 530.5(a), the elements of which are discussed above. PC 530.5(a) can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances.
If found guilty of the charge of identity theft as a misdemeanor, the defendant could be sentenced up to one year in county jail. If the defendant is found guilty of felony identity theft, the defendant could be sentenced up to three years in prison.
Immigration and professional licensing consequences. PC 530.5 crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude, which means that identity theft is considered to be morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry severe negative consequences for non U.S. citizens and for defendants who have a professional or occupation license. Non United States citizens may be deported and licensed professionals may lose their professional license upon, or even before, any conviction for an identity theft crime.
In addition to any jail term, if found guilty of identity theft the defendant could also face probation, fines, lawsuits from the person whose identity was stolen, restitution, and more.
Defense to Identity Theft (PC 530.5 Crimes)
Common defenses to identity theft charges include: Consent to use the other person's identity (most commonly associated with elder theft), insufficient evidence to prove that the identification was not used for an unlawful purpose, mistake of fact, duress, intoxication, insanity, statute of limitations, and more.
If you or a loved one has been charged with identity theft, also known as unauthorized use of personal identifying information, or penal code section 530.5, contact our criminal defense attorneys today.
Our criminal lawyers have successfully defended against hundreds of misdemeanor and felony charges, including identity theft criminal charges. We are available every day to answer all of your questions and our consultations are free. Call today!
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PC 530.5: Identity Theft Defense
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PC 530.5: Identity Theft
- Check Fraud
- Criminal Threats
- Domestic Violence
- Drunk in Public
- Elder Theft
- False Personation
- Hit and Run
- Identity Theft
- Indecent Exposure
- Lewd Acts
- Vehicle Theft
- Welfare Fraud
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Crimes related to identity theft (PC 530.5(a))
- False impersonation PC 529
- Identity theft with prior conviction PC 530.5(c)(2)
- Identity theft of more than 10 people PC 530.5(c)(3)
- Selling information for identity theft PC 530.5.(d)(2)
- Unauthorized use of personal information PC 530.5(a)
- Attempted identity theft PC 664/530.5 & 530.5(a)