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Federal laws have changed dramatically since the 1990’s, and there are now two separate federal identity theft crimes that carry severe penalties, often requiring legal guidance from a Columbus identity theft lawyer if you are ever criminally accused.
As technology has changed personal identification from fingerprints and signatures to Social Security numbers, account numbers and security codes it has become much easier to use another person’s identifying information to commit fraud or other crimes. The federal laws were slow to adapt to the changes. In the late 1990’s it was possible for a convicted felon to get a home loan, run up over $100,000 in credit card debt and purchase motorcycles and handguns using his victim’s identity – and the only federal crime he faced was for making a false statement to purchase a handgun.
The first federal identity theft crime was created in 1998 as part of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. The federal identity theft law is part of a larger federal statute addressing fraud in relation to identification documents. The law makes it a crime when a person “knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, or in connection with, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”
The penalties for identity theft can vary depending on the circumstances of the crime, but they include possible prison time, fines, seizure of personal property used to commit the offense, and restitution to the victim. Generally, the prison term can be up to 15 years if the individual committing the offense obtains things of value of more than $1,000 in a one year period, and a prison term of up to 5 years otherwise. The amount ordered for restitution can include an amount equal to the value of time reasonably spent by the victim in an attempt to repair the harm incurred by the victim.
The crime of aggravated identity theft was created by the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004. Aggravated identity theft occurs when during and in relation to committing certain felonies a person “knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person.” The types of felonies that would trigger aggravated identity theft charges include embezzlement, immigration and citizenship offenses, consumer fraud, and Social Security fraud. There is a separate category of aggravated identity theft that provides for a more severe penalty if the felony committed is considered a crime of terrorism.
The penalty for aggravated identity theft is a mandatory prison term of 5 years if the underlying felony is a crime of terrorism and a mandatory prison term of 2 years for other felonies. The law makes it clear that aggravated identity theft is to be penalized in addition to any penalty for the felony that was committed. The prison sentence for aggravated identity theft is prohibited from being run concurrently with the penalty for the felony committed, and the prison term for the felony committed cannot be reduced as a way of compensating for the aggravated identity theft sentence.
If you are facing federal identity theft or aggravated identity theft charges, you are likely facing additional serious federal felony charges and a significant prison sentence. You need an experienced attorney that knows how to defend you in federal court. The Ohio federal criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates have years of experience handling federal cases and reaching the best possible outcomes for our clients.
If you have been charged with a federal crime, you’re probably wondering what your options are. The Ohio federal criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates have years of experience handling these types of cases and winning optimal outcomes for our clients. Call Columbus identity theft lawyer Chase Mallory today for a free consultation. To contact him or another criminal defense attorney, call us at or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org.