Columbia Identity Theft Lawyer
Identity theft is a crime that is increasingly common in Columbia. Lawmakers have tried to react by passing new legislation which can be confusing to interpret. In their zeal to protect consumers, sometimes law enforcement officials go overboard when charging people with identity theft.
Regardless of the circumstances, there are defenses that may be raised in identity theft cases. So, if you are facing charges, it is a good idea to talk to a Columbia identity theft lawyer.
A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer with experience defending against identity theft charges could help you protect your rights, fight the charges, and work toward a positive outcome in your case.
What Constitutes Identity Theft
Identity theft is also referred to in state statutes as identity fraud. When someone commits identity fraud or theft, they usually make illegal use of identifying information belonging to another person to obtain something of value or for another meaningful purpose such as to avoid prosecution. Identity fraud crimes also include selling or providing identifying information to others for their use.
Based on the type of information falsely appropriated, it is possible to commit five overall types of identity theft. Circumstances involving identity theft generally fit into one of the following categories:
- Theft of identifying or financial information to obtain money or something of value
- Use of a false identity to commit crimes or to avoid arrest for crimes already committed
- Use of another person’s Social Security number to avoid taxes or for other purposes
- Theft of medical or insurance information to obtain medication, medical procedures or other medical care
- Use of a false driver’s license when a license has been revoked or for other purposes
While theft of information for monetary gain is the most well-known form of identity theft, medical identity theft is becoming increasingly popular, and use of a fake or stolen driver’s license may be the most common form of identity theft.
State Criminal Laws Covering Identity Theft
Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §8-301 prohibits several types of conduct that could be considered identity theft or identity fraud. For instance, subsection (c) makes it illegal to willfully assume another identity, either real or fictitious, to avoid prosecution, fraudulently gain a benefit, obtain medical services, or avoid debt.
Subsection (f) forbids people from claiming to represent another person without their permission to induce someone to provide personal identifying information or payment device numbers. Other provisions of this statute prohibit the fraudulent use of skimming devices, interactive computer services, or re-encoder devices or even possession of such devices.
Penalties for an Identity Theft Conviction
The penalties for violating these provisions vary depending on the value of the goods or benefits fraudulently obtained. If the value is $1,500 or more, identity theft is treated as a felony. Maximum prison sentences start at five years and could stretch to 10 or 20 years if the value of the property at issue is worth $25,000 or more. Fines of $10,000 or more may be imposed for felony identity theft.
Where the value of the benefits wrongly appropriated through identity fraud are worth less than $1,500, the offense is treated as a misdemeanor. The maximum term of imprisonment is one year, and the maximum fine is $500.
If the circumstances indicate that the person committing identity theft intended to distribute another’s personal identifying information without consent, then the statute specifies that the identity theft should be treated as a felony. Those convicted face up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Those who have been charged should speak to a tenacious attorney to learn more about the potential penalties they may face if convicted.
Work with a Columbia Identity Theft Attorney Today
The circumstances involved can make a great deal of difference in the severity of an identity theft case. It is wise to collect and preserve evidence that could prove crucial in building a defensive strategy.
When you work with a knowledgeable Columbia identity theft lawyer, your attorney could begin right away collecting evidence and providing advice to improve the chances of a successful outcome in your case. Your attorney serves as your advocate through all proceedings, working to protect your rights and your future. For a free consultation, call now.