The number of cases involving identity theft have increased over the past weeks and months in Pennsylvania. From August 26 to August 30 this year, there were five reported incidents of identity theft alone in Haverford-Havertown, which is more than one case per day. It is not a surprise that cases of identity theft are increasing, as the use of computers, the Internet, social media, and email also increases every day.
In Pennsylvania, law enforcement and the state prosecution are getting tough on identity theft in the Commonwealth, and the consequences for those convicted are harsh. If you have been charged, our identity theft lawyer in Philadelphia can help you avoid the penalties a conviction may bring.
The Law on Identity Theft
As the name of the offense implies, identity theft typically involves one person unlawfully using the identity of someone else. That identity can include the alleged victim’s Social Security number, birth date, or other personal information. This information is usually illegally used to open fraudulent financial accounts in the victim’s name.
To charge someone with identity theft, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must show:
- The accused possessed or used another person’s identifying information, regardless of how they obtained that information,
- The alleged victim did not consent to the use of their personal information, and
- The information was used to further an illegal purpose or enterprise
The attorney general will investigate and prosecute identity theft cases if it involves different counties within the state, or when it crosses state lines. An identity theft lawyer in Philadelphia can determine if the prosecution has satisfied their burden of proof and when that is not the case, the lawyer may also be able to get the case dismissed.
Penalties for Identity Theft if You are Convicted
The penalties you will face for a conviction of identity theft will largely depend on the value of the loss the victim sustained. Losses valued at less than $2,000, for example, are generally considered a misdemeanor when it is the accused’s first criminal offense. Still, a conviction for a first degree misdemeanor can result in five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
If the losses are valued at more than $2,000, the state can charge the defendant with a third degree felony. A conviction for a third degree felony can also result in a very high fine and up to seven years in prison.
Other penalties that may come with a conviction include paying for the victim’s fees to remove negative information from their credit report, paying restitution to the victim, and paying the victim’s attorney’s fees.
Call Our Identity Theft Lawyers in Philadelphia Today
Law enforcement officers and the state prosecution aggressively pursue cases of identity theft, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. If you have been charged, our Philadelphia identity theft lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin can provide the defense that will help you beat the charges. Call us now at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.