Philadelphia Identity Theft Attorneys
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys Defending Individuals against Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious crime nationwide, and the penalties upon conviction can be extremely harsh. Under Pennsylvania law, a person may be charged with identity theft if he or she assumes another person’s identity for purposes of opening a fraudulent account in that person’s name, such as a credit card account or bank account. Identity theft can occur by stealing a person’s social security number, date of birth, address, telephone number, Medicare number, bank account information, or credit card number.
One reason why identity theft is such a serious problem today is because everyone uses the internet—including email, shopping, and social media sites—on a regular basis. When a person’s identity is compromised online, it can very easily be stolen by someone else. Identity theft crimes may include the following:
- Online or cyber identity theft
- Corporate or business identity theft
- Phishing scams
- Financial identity theft (e.g., stealing a person’s bank account and/or ATM information)
- Medical ID theft
- Credit card identity theft
- Social security theft or fraud
- Driver’s license ID fraud
- Mail ID theft
Identity theft crimes may be prosecuted under both state and federal laws. Identity theft may be prosecuted in federal court in cases where the charge raises one or more questions of federal law. Criminal proceedings in federal court can be very long and involved, and the potential penalties upon conviction may include high fines and/or long periods of incarceration in a state or federal prison.
If you have been charged with or convicted of identity theft in Pennsylvania, you need a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in your corner. Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Brian Zeiger has spent much of his career representing criminal defendants charged with serious state and federal crimes. He can ensure that all of your constitutional and legal rights are protected throughout your criminal case. Attorney Brian Zeiger can also meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case and may be able to help you formulate good legal defenses to your identity theft charge—or a favorable plea deal with the prosecution.
How Identity Theft Crimes are Prosecuted
Identity theft crimes may involve questions of both state and federal law. Under Pennsylvania law, a person may be charged with or convicted of identity theft if the following elements are proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The person possessed or used another person’s identifying information, such as a birthdate or social security number.
- The personal information was stolen without the person’s knowledge or consent.
- The personal information was used for an unlawful purpose.
It is also important to note that in cases where the identity theft occurred in more than one Pennsylvania county or in another state, the Attorney General can investigate the case and prosecute the defendant.
Potential Penalties upon Conviction
Under current Pennsylvania law, identity theft can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, in cases where the defendant has not previously been charged with identity theft—and where the total value of the theft is less than $2,000. In these first-degree misdemeanor cases, a conviction may be punished by up to five years of incarceration and fine of up to $10,000.
If the total value of the identity theft is more than $2,000, or in cases where a criminal conspiracy is involved, the defendant may be charged with a third-degree felony, and upon conviction, may be sentenced to up to seven years of incarceration.
In addition to these penalties, upon conviction, an identity theft defendant may also be sentenced to a period of probation—or may be forced to pay large fines, pay restitution to the alleged victim, or complete long periods of community service. Finally, the court may order the defendant to pay court costs and filing fees that were necessary to investigate the identity theft or commence court proceedings.
Contact a Philadelphia Identity Theft Attorney Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation
If you have been charged with identity theft in Pennsylvania, you need a skilled lawyer on your side safeguarding your legal rights and vigorously defending your case. Attorney Brain Zeiger can meet with you to discuss the facts of your case and may be able to help you formulate a good legal defense to your charge and represent you during criminal proceedings in court. A good criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you obtain a dismissal of your charge or a favorable plea deal with the prosecutor.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia identity theft attorney, please call us today or contact us online.