Aggravated Identity Theft
While most people know that identity theft is prohibited by both state and federal law, few are aware that a person can also be charged with an offense known as aggravated identity theft. The latter comes with harsher penalties, including fines and jail time, so if you have been accused of aggravated identity theft, please contact a member of our white collar crime legal team today for assistance with planning your defense.
Identity Theft Charges
Standard identity theft is prohibited by the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, which was passed in 1998 and makes it unlawful to knowingly transfer or use another person’s identification, without a lawful purpose and with the intent to commit a crime. The most common forms of identity theft involve the use of another person’s Social Security number, name, date of birth, birth certificate, bank account and credit card numbers, Medicare number, and address. Those who are convicted of unlawfully using this information could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
Defining Aggravated Identity Theft
In 2004, Congress enacted the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which specifically created penalties for incidents involving aggravated identity theft. The offense was defined as using someone else’s identity to commit certain felony crimes, such as:
- Making false claims of citizenship and other immigration violations;
- Theft of Social Security benefits;
- Theft of public money;
- Theft or embezzlement by a bank officer;
- Theft from employee benefit plans;
- Making a fraudulent or false statement;
- Committing mail, bank, or wire fraud;
- Obtaining customer information by false pretenses;
- Making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm;
- Making false statements when applying for federal aid or government benefits; and
- Acts of domestic terrorism.
Generally, defendants who are found guilty of aggravated identity theft will have an additional two years added to their sentence, although for cases involving terrorism, the penalty will be increased to an additional five years. Furthermore, courts are specifically prohibited from placing defendants who have been convicted of this offense on probation.
Aside from prohibiting the use of someone else’s identification for an unlawful purpose, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act also forbids even the transfer or possession of another person’s identifying information. However, before a person can be convicted of this offense, prosecutors must establish that the defendant did not have lawful authority to use the information and knowingly committed the crime.
Call us Today to Speak with an Experienced White Collar Crime Lawyer
To learn more about your identity theft charges, please contact dedicated Miami white collar crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 today. We know how frightening and stressful it can be to be accused of this type of serious federal offense and so dedicate ourselves to aggressively defending our clients’ interests. If you have questions about your own case, please consider contacting a member of our legal team to schedule a free consultation with an attorney who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.