Defending Against Identity Theft Charges

by Richard Finci on August 2, 2013

  • Sharebar

Being charged with Identity Theft is nothing to take lightly. If you have been charged with such a crime, or suspect that you soon will be, then there are a few things to keep in mind that can help make your defense more effective.

Obtain Legal Counsel

The first thing to do whenever you have criminal charges leveled against you is to find a lawyer and retain his or her services. Criminal charges can be a big deal and bungling your defense from the start is a good way to end up with increased prison time or additional fines.

Be smart and don’t simply go rushing to the first law firm you find or call your dad’s best friend who happens to be an attorney. Legal professionals specialize for a reason. It is difficult to master even one branch of law so you want to be sure that the lawyer you hire knows about defending against white collar criminal charges and identity theft in particular.

Know Your Crime

Part of finding the right lawyer is knowing exactly what it is you are being charged with. Just telling your attorney that you committed “ID theft” is not the most helpful thing ever. Understanding the differences between various forms of ID theft is a great step in finding the right lawyer and developing a good defense.

The five most common types of ID theft are:

Financial Theft

This is exactly what it sounds like, stealing someone’s money. This typically involves illegal use of credit card or banking information.

Character and Criminal Theft

The practice of stealing an identity in order to perpetrate crimes without besmirching your own record. You have stolen and misused an individual’s reputation as opposed to robbing them of concrete assets.

Social Security Number

Generally this is a goldmine in the world of ID theft and can be used to unlock a great deal of personal information. That information can be used to steal money, avoid debt and taxes, and many other things.

Medical Information

Stealing medical information in order to have procedures or other medical work done and avoiding the bill is a practice that is on the rise. Quality medical care and insurance are expensive so enterprising individuals find a way to have someone else foot the bill.

DMV Records

Like the social security number, a driver’s license is a great tool for identity theft. It can be used as identification to avoid problems with background checks, to avoid tickets, or to unlock other precious personal information. This is currently the number one form of ID theft in the US.

Criminal Sentencing for Identity Theft

The information age has brought with it a bevy of new opportunities and methodologies for stealing and using another’s identity as your own. Since all this ease of use and access is fairly new, the laws and sentences governing ID theft are likewise new.

But don’t let that mislead you into thinking that the penalties for ID theft are lenient. Anyone convicted of ID theft will be facing charges on both the Federal and State level. Also, the criminal justice system has decided to come up with particular circumstances and tactics that, if used while committing an identity theft crime, function as a way to “enhance” your sentence. These “sentence boosters” seem to have been patterned after the menu at one of those high-end smoothie shops; adding years to your prison time is as easy as getting some caffeine or b-vitamins in your Orange-Berry-Blast during your lunch break.


Aggravated Identity Theft: Add an additional two years to of prison time for any felony committed in conjunction with the ID theft. An act of terrorism will land you with five extra years added to your ID theft sentence. Oh, and those extra years cannot be served on probation, it’s all quality time in a cell.

Abuse of Power: Expect an increased sentence if you held anything resembling a position of power over your identity theft victim. This could be anything from your student, your employee, or a younger relative.

Phishing: People involved in phishing scams get an additional two years of prison time.

A final fact that can make these charges even more devastating is that all sentences involving ID theft are cumulative. Federal and State charges will be added together with any extras from “enhancements” and multiple instances of the same crime count.

After adding all that together you could be looking at decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Conclusion? Get Help!

Basically, it’s important to remember that ID theft is a serious crime. To some it may appear to be a small-time thrill or way to get “easy money” to quote John Connor. For the younger generation it might even be something akin to cyber-shoplifting.

But anyone convicted of identity theft today is going to face a litany of charges and a government bent on putting serious fear into the minds of would-be criminals. The best thing you can possibly do is find a good ID theft lawyer and give them any and all information they want. That is simply the surest way to avoid spending the next ten years without your freedom, or even worse, without internet access!

Richard Finci

Richard Finci

Richard Finci is a partner at the law firm of Houlon, Berman, Bergman, Finci, Levenstein & Skok and is one of the best criminal and traffic lawyers in the DC metro area. A former President of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney's Association, Richard acted as Chair at the 2007 Criminal Law Section Council and has presented seminars on criminal defense at several venues. A leader in his field, Richard likes to stay active in the local law and educational communities.
Richard Finci

Latest posts by Richard Finci (see all)

No related posts.

Previous post:

Next post: