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Identity Theft

Thanks to the Internet, identity theft has become all too common in this day and age. So many businesses rely on electronic records that it has gone from a rare event accomplished by experienced counterfeiters to a practical epidemic. Because so many new cases are reported on a daily basis and the consequences for the victims are so far-reaching, authorities are quick to lay charges and even quicker to impose harsh punishments.

New York State law defines identity theft as the intentional act of assuming another person’s identity to acquire money, credit, goods, or services fraudulently. It can be done in person, online, or via mail. Whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depends primarily on the value of the benefits obtained via fraud.

Identity Theft in the Third Degree

Identity Theft in the Third Degree is committed when you intentionally assume someone else’s identity to acquire less than $500 worth of money, credit, goods, or services. It is a Class A misdemeanor that can potentially result in a one-year jail sentence upon conviction.

Identity Theft in the Second Degree

You can be found guilty of this offense if the prosecution successfully proves that you stole another person’s identity to acquire benefits valued at over $500. It is an E felony that can cause you to be incarcerated for up to four years, depending on the circumstances and/or the existence of a prior record, particularly if it involves use of a credit card skimming device or another act that caused financial loss.

Identity Theft in the First Degree

With Identity Theft in the First Degree, you are accused of stealing someone else’s identity to acquire over $2,000 worth of money, credit, goods, or services. It is classified as a D felony, and if convicted, you could spend up to seven years in a New York State prison.

Like its second degree counterpart, Identity Theft in the First Degree is a “bump up” charge, meaning that you can go from a misdemeanor to a felony accusation under certain circumstances. If you use a friend’s credit card to make a $100 transaction (which is Identity Theft in the Third Degree) and then sign the receipt with their name, you have also committed Forgery in the Second Degree, which will bump up your misdemeanor charge.

Aggravated Identity Theft

Aggravated identity theft takes place when you commit any degree of identity theft while knowing that the victim is a member of the U.S. armed forces currently deployed overseas. Regardless of the value of the benefits you obtained via fraud, it is a class D felony that can send you to prison for up to seven years.

If you are accused of identity theft, then it is imperative that you engage the support of a New York criminal defense attorney. The consequences of a conviction and criminal record are too great for you to risk facing the charges alone. An experienced identity theft attorney can advocate for you, challenge the evidence, and fight for the best outcome for your circumstances. Call the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC at 212-951-1232 if you are facing criminal charges related to identity theft for a free consultation.

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