Identity Theft Lawyer Philadelphia
Identity Theft is a serious crime. In Pennsylvania, Identity Theft is a Felony of the Third Degree, punishable by up to 7 years in jail and a significant fine. In some cases, the grading of Identity Theft can increase to a Felony of the Second Degree, punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Finally, in some rare cases, Identity Theft can be graded as a Misdemeanor of the First Degree, punishable by up to 5 years in jail.
The disparity between the grading of each type of Identity Theft is significant - you can be charged with anywhere between a Misdemeanor and a Felony of the Second Degree. It is important to consult an attorney as soon as you learn you have been charged with Identity Theft.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity Theft is the use or possession, through any means, of a person's personal identifying information, without their permission, for any purpose.
Personal identifying information can include social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, even your mother's maiden name. In other words, anything that uniquely identifies you can be considered personal identifying information. Merely having a person's identifying information in your possession could subject you to being liable for a crime.
Identity Theft is graded as:
- A misdemeanor of the first degree when the total value involved is less than $2,000.
- A felony of the third degree when the total value involved is $2,000 or more;
- A felony of the third degree if it is in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy regardless of the amount; and
A felony of the second degree if it is your third or subsequent offense.
Enhancements for Identity Theft
The identity theft statute in Pennsylvania is unique in the sense that it provides for certain enhancements if you fall under a set of classifications or use the information in a particular way.
One type of enhancement is the fact that a person can be charged for every separate time that person uses or possess another person's identifying information. The implication of this is that every time a person runs a fraudulent credit card transaction, that person can be charged with a separate count of identity theft. In a worst case scenario, if a perpetrator uses a person's identity 10 times on transactions that are less than $2,000, they can be charged with 10 counts of misdemeanor identity theft, which means they're now facing a maximum penalty of up to 50 years instead of just 5 years. Therefore, this type of enhancement can add up very quickly.
The greatest enhancement, however, is meant for those who use or possess the identifying information of anyone who is 60 years old or older. Anyone who has this type of identifying information will receive an enhancement up one grading. This means that if you merely possess the information of a 60 year old person and the value involved is under $2,000 (normally a misdemeanor of the third degree), your crime is now graded as a felony of the third degree. In the worst case scenario, a person charged with their third offense, normally a felony of the second degree, carrying up to 10 years, can be charged with a felony of the first degree, carrying up to 20 years in jail.
Should I Have An Attorney?
The identity theft statute is complicated, including several enhancements. You should definitely not go at it alone. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. can help you formulate defenses and figure out what course of action will be best for you. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling these types of cases and specialized knowledge on crimes involving identity theft. Call us today for a free consultation.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin