Identity Theft

Identity theft is a felony offense under both Florida and Federal Law. Essentially, identity theft means stealing, obtaining, or using without authorization, the identity of another person for theft or fraud in order to gain some monetary or other pecuniary interest.  As such, Florida and Federal laws have been established to address this offense and impose serious punishments upon conviction.  For instance, Florida has established mandatoryminimum sentences when there is a certain amount of victims, or if the monetary interest gained through the course of the identity theft is over a certain amount.  For instance, if an offender gains a monetary benefit of over $5,000 but less than $50,000 or there are more than 10 victims involved but less than 20, the offender is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than 3 years.  In addition, Federal law establishes an enhanced mandatory minimum penalty of 2 (two) years imprisonment for an “aggravated” identity theft offense, immigration identity theft offenses, or the theft of social security benefits, and 5 years if committed in the course of also committing domestic terrorism.  Federal law prohibiting identity theft is also violated when a government document is involved such as a driver’s license, social security card, or birth certificate.  Florida law applies to all of the aforementioned offenses, and any other form of identity fraud, or the use of another’s identity in the gain of some form of monetary interest.

Under Federal law, identity theft occurs when one:

  • Knowingly and without lawful authority produces an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document;
  • Knowingly transfers an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document knowing that such document or feature was stolen or produced without lawful authority;
  • Knowingly possesses with the intent to use unlawfully or by unlawfully transferring five or more identification documents (other than those issued lawfully for the use of the possessor), authentication features, or false identification documents;
  • Knowingly possessing an identification document (other than one issued lawfully for the use of the possessor), authentication feature, or a false identification document, with the intent such document or feature be used to defraud the United States;
  • Knowingly producing, transferring, or possessing a document-making implement or authentication feature with the intent such document-making implement or authentication feature will be used in the production of a false identification document or another document-making implement or authentication feature which will be so used;
  • Knowingly possessing an identification document or authentication feature that is or appears to be an identification document or authentication feature of the United States or a sponsoring entity of an event designated as a special event of national significance which is stolen or produced without lawful authority knowing that such document or feature was stolen or produced without such authority;
  • Knowingly transferring, possessing, or using, 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;
  • Knowingly trafficking in false or actual authentication features for use in false identification documents, document-making implements, or means of identification.

If you are convicted under Federal law, you may be sentenced to imprisonment up to, and not to exceed 30 years percharge. If the offense is “aggravated” identity theft, an additional mandatory term of 2 years imprisonment is also included.

Under Florida law, identity theft is when one intentionally and without authorization, fraudulently uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use personal identification information concerning another person and did so without first obtaining the consent of the victim.  The penalties for this offense are as follows:

If the offender gains a monetary benefit of less than $5,000, or victimizes less than 10 individuals without their consent, the offender has committed a felony of the third degree.  Conviction of this offense is punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed 5 years.

If the offender gains a monetary benefit gained of over $5,000, but less than $50,000, or victimizes more than 10, but less than 20 individuals without their consent, the offender has committed a felony of the second degree.  Conviction of this offense is punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed to 15 years.  In addition, conviction of this offense prescribes for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of no less than 3 years.

If the offender gains a monetary benefit of over $50,000, but less than $100,000, or victimizes more than 20, but less than 30 individuals without their consent, the offender has committed a felony of the first degree. Conviction of this offense is punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 years.  In addition, conviction of this offense prescribes for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of no less than 5 years.  Further, if the offender gains a monetary benefit of over $100,000, or victimized more than 30 individuals without their consent, conviction prescribes for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of no less than 10 years.

Attorney Paul Petruzzi has over twenty years of experience defending identity theft cases.  He has represented many clients charged with, or under investigation for, identity theft offenses.  It is important to hire an experienced attorney when faced with this type of fraud charge.  Attorney Paul Petruzzi’s knowledge and expertise in this field of law is a vital asset to anyone charged with these crimes.  Call today for a free consultation.

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