Federal Identity Theft Lawyer
Assisting Individuals Facing Identity Theft Charges in Federal Criminal Court
Identity theft is one of the most serious criminal charges that an individual can face at the federal level, and if you are facing one of these charges, the odds may seem stacked against you. Because identity theft crimes often cross state lines, federal law – and the federal court system – have jurisdiction over these matters.
Crimes involving identity theft have become increasingly more prevalent over the years. Consequently, federal investigators and prosecutors are cracking down on these offenses, and sentencing judges will not hesitate to impose the maximum penalty upon conviction allowed by the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines. If you have been arrested or charged with federal identity theft, it is essential that you have a criminal defense lawyer representing you who is experienced at defending these serious criminal matters in federal court. Note that there is also state-level identity theft penalties in Ohio.
Federal identity theft lawyer Brian Joslyn and the defense team at the Joslyn Law Firm will do everything possible to defend you against your criminal charge, and we work to minimize any penalties upon conviction. Call today at (614) 444-1900 or contact us online to learn more about how we could assist you with your federal case.
Defining Identity Theft
Identity theft is criminalized under the United States Code, which means it is a federal statute and offense. Under this law, it is illegal for an individual to knowingly and intentionally possess, transfer, or use someone else’s identifying information, without that person’s permission or lawful authority, to intentionally commit an activity that violates federal law or that amounts to a felony offense pursuant to an applicable local law or state law.
Identity theft can take a variety of different forms in the federal system. Some of the most common forms of identity theft include the following:
- Credit card fraud that occurs when the accused intentionally obtains another person’s credit card information, including the credit card number, expiration date, and verification code, for purposes of making a purchase without the credit card owner’s consent or authorization
- “Phishing” scams where an individual or entity sends out fraudulent emails to numerous individuals in an attempt to have the recipient disclose identifying information, such as a social security number
- “Skimming scams” where an individual or entity obtains a person’s credit card information by using a card reader or by obtaining access to business receipts
- Fraudulently using a person’s checking account information, obtained by stealing a personal check, in order to create and sign a forged check
- Hacking into a computer or a computer system – usually through the use of spyware or malware – for purposes of unlawfully obtaining a person or individual’s identifying information, such as a social security number
- Opening a new credit card account or line of credit by using an individual’s stolen social security number
- Unlawfully obtaining an individual’s social security number for purposes of falsifying a tax return
- Obtaining another individual’s prescription medication (such as a prescription for pain pills) by unlawfully obtaining and using that individual’s information, such as the individual’s social security number
It is also important to note that in order for you to be criminally charged with identity theft, it is not necessary for you to actually use the stolen identifying information at issue. Merely obtaining the identifying information by unlawful means, in and of itself, constitutes identity theft. This is true even in cases where the accused does not attempt to use the personal information to achieve financial gain.
Aggravated Identity Theft at the Federal Level
The federal crime of aggravated identity theft occurs when a person commits an identity theft crime in relation to – or during the course of committing – certain felony offenses. Those felony offenses include all of the following:
- Immigration offenses
- Citizenship offenses
- Embezzlement crimes
- Consumer fraud offenses
- Social security fraud offenses
- Terrorism offenses
Potential Penalties upon Conviction for Identity Theft and Aggravated Identity Theft
If you are ultimately convicted of an identity theft offense, you will likely be looking at harsh penalties. The exact penalties depend upon the individual circumstances of a particular offense, but they could include monetary fines, prison time, the required return of any personal property that was used to commit the identity theft crime, and restitution paid to the alleged victim in the case. The specific penalties include the following:
- A maximum of 15 years in jail, in cases where the offender illegally obtains merchandise with a value in excess of $1,000 over a period of one year – along with a maximum incarceration period of five years under other circumstances
- Restitution, which is equivalent to the time value that the alleged victim was forced to spend in an attempt to correct the harm that the offender allegedly caused
The potential penalties upon conviction of a federal aggravated identity theft offense are equally high. Potential penalties that the accused could occur if he or she is convicted of aggravated identity theft include:
- A mandatory incarceration period of five years (in cases where the underlying felony amounts to a terrorism crime)
- A mandatory incarceration period of two years where the underlying felony offense does not amount to an act of terrorism
Moreover, pursuant to the Sentencing Guidelines, a conviction for federal aggravated identity theft will incur a penalty on top of the penalty already imposed for the underlying felony conviction. Moreover, a federal judge is not permitted to impose these penalties concurrently, and the penalty imposed for the felony offense may not be subject to reduction.
Call a Federal Identity Theft Attorney Today About Your Case
If you have been charged with federal identity theft, it is important that you have a knowledgeable and experienced federal criminal defense lawyer on your side. The federal criminal defense attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm understand the seriousness of a federal identity theft charge, as well as the potential penalties you could incur if you are ultimately convicted.
To schedule a free legal consultation and case evaluation with an experienced federal identity theft lawyer, call today at (614) 444-1900 or contact us online to learn more about how we could assist you with formulating a successful legal defense.