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Identity Theft Laws

Identity theft is a crime that is a huge burden on the victim, resulting in a great deal of stress and a sense of hopelessness.

A criminal can easily gain access to many items of personally identifying information as a means of financial gain or to damage a victim’s credit and overall life. Everyone should do their part toward preventing identity theft, but it may not always be possible, and it takes several steps to recover once you have become a victim of the crime.

Identity Theft Laws in California

In California, it is illegal to obtain another person’s personally identifying information with the intent to gain that person’s finances or to damage their finances, credit or reputation. In an identity theft case, the prosecutor would have to show that the defendant willfully obtained such information and used it without the consent of the owner. In the state of California, it is also a crime to sell or transfer another individual’s personally identifying information when the defendant knows that it would be done for fraudulent purposes.  If you or a loved one has been arrested for identity theft, contact a good bail bondsman and a lawyer.

What Entails Identity Theft in California?

It is the job of a prosecutor to show that the defendant had unlawful purpose regarding the victim’s personally identifying information. Under state law, there are a variety of activities that show an unlawful purpose for another individual’s personally identifying information. Those things include purchasing goods or property, applying for credit under the victim’s name and obtaining medical information.

Personally Identifying Information

There are several types of personally identifying information listed within the California Penal Code that could be taken or used in an unlawful manner during crimes of identity theft. The types of information that are included in the list include the person’s name, address, phone number, social security number, driver’s license number, passport number, taxpayer identification number and other articles of information. Additionally, the state law includes other types of information as well, such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers and banking pin numbers. California law also includes information like fingerprints, retina and iris images, voiceprints and other similar data as personally identifying information.

Additional Charges

In addition to identity theft, prosecutors in California may charge you with an even more serious crime of criminal identity theft. This charge can be given to a defendant if their actions affect a victim’s criminal record.

Identity Theft Defense

In a case of identity theft in the state of California, one of the chief defenses is that the owner gave consent to the defendant to obtain or use the personally identifying information. It can be a challenge for the defense attorney to prove this, however.

Penalties and Sentences for Identity Theft

There are specific penalties in place in California after someone is sentenced for identity theft crimes. The penalties and sentences are similar, regardless of whether or not the defendant obtained, retained, transferred, sold or used another person’s personally identifying information for unlawful purposes. The sentence a defendant of identity theft receives depends on exactly what happened during the commission of the crime and how severely the crime hurt the victim. In California, according to the law, a criminal can be punished through a fine, being put in county jail for as long as one year, both a fine and a county jail term or even a larger sentence depending on whether the defendant has a prior criminal history and record and additional circumstances, as per law.

At the same time, it is important to remember that the laws are always changing, and in the state of California, that is no exception. Contact a California attorney or do your own legal research to verify the state laws of the crime of which you are studying.

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