Identity theft, also referred to as ID theft, occurs when an individual steals another individual’s identity and uses that person’s personally identifiable information, which includes the person’s name, debit or credit card information, and Social Security number among others.
Identity Theft Statute in Texas
An individual commits possession and/or fraudulent use of identifying information in the event that he, with the resolve to defraud or harm another person, acquires, possesses, utilizes, or transfers the stolen information of another individual without his or her consent, a departed individual, or a child below 18 years old.
Personally identifiable information is basically information that exclusively pertains to a person’s identity and is unique to that person alone. This typically includes the following:
- Name, birth date, mother’s maiden name, social security number, or any other identification number issued by the government;
- Biometric data, such as fingerprints, iris or retina images, and voice print;
- Electronic identification numbers, routing code, address, and account numbers for financial institutions; and
- Phone or any access device information.
According to a white collar criminal defense attorney in Houston, the crime of identity theft is punished according to the specific amount of stolen information that the offender fraudulently possessed or used. For instance, if the offender acquired, used, or transferred less than five items of personally identifiable information, the offense will be considered a state jail felony; a third degree felony if the stolen items is between five and nine, a second degree felony if the stolen items is between 10 and 49, and first degree felony if the stolen items is 50 and up.
What Offenders Should Know
An identity theft conviction could lead to severe repercussions and punishments, which include a criminal record, hefty fines, and/or prison or jail sentences. In addition, these penalties could increase based on whether the suspect has a previous felony offense, committed identity theft and/or utilized a weapon during the attempt or while committing the crime. With this in mind, if you’ve been charged with identity theft, it’s crucial that you get help from a criminal defense lawyer who has experience in white collar crimes to help you with your case.