Florida is known for having high rates of identity theft. There are many different kinds of identity theft, but in general identity theft involves using the personal information of someone else in a fraudulent manner. Identifying information includes addresses, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and other personal information. If you have been charged with identity theft, you should contact a skilled Tampa Bay identity theft defense attorney as soon as possible.Common Kinds of Identity Theft
Florida has specific laws and penalties that apply to different kinds of identity theft. The general identity theft statute in Florida refers to “criminal use of personal identifying information.” The degree of the crime will depend on the value of property that was fraudulently obtained by using the information, and the number of people whose identities were stolen. It is a third-degree felony if it involves less than ten people’s information, or if less than $5,000 is stolen. If the fraudulent information is used to obtain $5,000 or more worth of property then it is a second-degree felony. Similarly, it is also a second-degree felony if the information of 10 to 19 individuals were used. Finally, it’s a first-degree felony if the crime involves the personal information of 20 or more individuals or $50,000 or more was stolen. If the personal information was stolen from people who are deceased, and the identifying information of 30 or more people were used, or the goods obtained were worth $100,000, Florida law requires a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence. A knowledgeable identity theft attorney can assist you in Tampa Bay if you are facing these serious charges.
Some identity theft crimes also fall under the umbrella of other offenses, often larceny (theft). Anyone who impersonates someone else in order to obtain property has committed larceny, but the specific charge will depend on the amount of property stolen. Identity theft does not always have to involve actual theft. Sometimes someone will use the personal information of someone else in order to harass someone. Florida law considers this a first-degree misdemeanor.
The penalties for felonies in Florida can be very stiff. If you are convicted of a felony in Florida you may be incarcerated for a year or more and/or face up to $15,000 in fines. Misdemeanors are punished less harshly, and in some cases you may be able to serve a period of probation or pay restitution in lieu of being incarcerated.Common Defenses
Just because you are charged with identity theft does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted of a crime. An identity theft defense attorney in Tampa Bay can help defend you against the charges. One of the common defenses to accusations of identity theft is that there was no intent to use the information illegally. For example, maybe the information was used with the consent of the party whose information it is. Another defense is that the police have the wrong person. Sometimes it is hard to determine who the person misusing the information is and who is actually the victim of the identity theft, and the police arrest the wrong person.
While it is not a complete defense, you may also want to argue that the value of the property acquired and/or the number of people whose identities were used was less than the prosecutor is alleging. For example, maybe they are accusing you of using the identities of 12 people, which would be a second-degree felony. However, by arguing that there were fewer than ten individuals affected, you may be able to get a lesser sentence. The same is true with regard to the value of the merchandise.Experienced Tampa Bay Identity Theft Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with identity theft, you should contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As shown above, there are specific things that the prosecutor needs to prove in order to prove identity theft. A knowledgeable legal team can help you defend you against these charges. The attorneys at Blake & Dorsten, P.A., can help to defend you in court against any state or federal criminal charges, no matter how big or how small. Our attorneys handle cases in communities including Tampa Bay, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Pinellas County. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call us at 727-286-6141 or use the contact form on this website.