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Identity Theft

Tallahassee white collar lawyer

Each year, the Federal Trade Commission reports millions of Americans who fall victim to identity theft crimes. As technology continues to advance and evolve, the diverse ways of unlawfully obtaining someone else’s information continue to grow. This has led to legal statutes and amendments that outline the illegal uses of identification.

The offense of identity theft occurs when a person uses someone else’s personal information without their consent and for fraudulent purposes. This can occur through wireless hacking, false pretenses, or just plain stealing. A person who commits identity theft can face prosecution from both the State and Federal government. Depending on the details of the offense, a person convicted of identity theft can be sentenced to extremely harsh penalties, including mandatory minimum sentencing.

A person facing allegations of identity theft in Florida should consider speaking with a defense attorney to understand the charges and their potential penalties.

Tallahassee Identity Theft Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with illegally using another person’s identity or personal information, you should seek legal representation as soon as possible. Pumphrey Law Firm can help in representing your case and attempting to get the charges against you lessened or dismissed.

Our Leon County criminal defense attorneys serve clients in Tallahassee as well as such communities as Monticello in Jefferson County, Bristol in Liberty County, Saint Marks in Wakulla County, and Perry in Taylor County. We are dedicated to pursuing the most favorable outcome to every case we handle, and we can review your case when you call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message to schedule a free consultation.

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Leon County Identity Theft Information Center

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What is Identity Theft?

Before delving into the crime of identity theft, it helps to first provide the following definitions related to the offense, defined under Florida law:

Personal identification information refers to any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific person. This can include:

  • A name;
  • Postal or electronic mail address;
  • Telephone number;
  • Social security number;
  • Date of birth;
  • Mother’s given name;
  • Driver’s license;
  • Identification number;
  • Alien registration number;
  • Government passport number;
  • Employer or taxpayer’s identification number;
  • Medicaid or food stamp number;
  • Bank account number;
  • Credit or debit card number;
  • Fingerprint;
  • Voice print;
  • Retina or iris image; or
  • Any other unique physical representation, electronic identification number, address, routing code, medical record, or other information that could be used to access another person’s financial resources.

To willfully do something means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely.

Fraudulently means to suppress the truth purposely or intentionally, to deceive someone, or both.

Authorization refers to empowerment, permission, or competence to act.

The Florida Bar defines identity theft as the criminal act of using another person’s personal information, without their consent, to commit or attempt to commit a fraudulent act. A person may commit identity theft by using the personal identification information of another person for any of the following purposes:

  • To assume another person’s identity by using their name, social security number, or driver’s license;
  • To obtain financial information such as bank or credit card numbers to establish credit, make purchases, or apply for loans;
  • To use another person’s name or health insurance to receive medical care or prescription drugs;
  • To steal money directly from another person’s credit, checking, or savings account;
  • To gain employment under a different identity;
  • To file for bankruptcy; or
  • To lease or purchase a motor vehicle.

Were you recently accused of identity theft through a fraudulent act? Consider contacting a Tallahassee white collar crimes defense attorney to discuss the details of your case.

Criminal Use of Personal Identification in Florida

Chapter 817 of the Florida Statutes is dedicated to Fraudulent Practices. 

Allegations of identity theft are typically charged under Florida Statute Section 817.568(2), which states it is unlawful for any person to willfully and without authorization fraudulently possess, use, or intend to possess or use the personal identification information of another person without their consent. A person charged with the fraudulent use of personal identification information faces a third-degree felony.

However, the specific sentencing for an identity theft conviction can vary depending on the amount of alleged harm involved:

  • If the injury or fraud perpetrated is valued at $5,000 or more, or if the defendant fraudulently uses the personal identification information of 10 or more people, but less than 20 people, they face a second-degree felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison.
  • If the injury or fraud perpetrated is valued at $50,000 or more, or if the defendant fraudulently uses the personal identification information of 20 or more people, but less than 30 people, they face a first-degree felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison.
    • If the injury or fraud perpetrated is valued at $100,000 or more, or if the defendant fraudulently uses the personal identification information of more than 30 or more people, they face a first-degree felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Related Identity Theft Offenses

There are additional charges a person accused of identity theft may face, depending on the circumstances of their case. Florida Statute Section 817.568 outlines the following identity theft-related offenses:

  • Harassment by use of personal identification information – Any person who willfully and without authorization possesses, uses, or attempts to use personal identification information concerning a person without first obtaining that person’s consent, and who does so for the purpose of harassing that person, can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Fraudulent use or possession with intent to use personal identification information of a minor or elder – A person accused of the willful and unauthorized fraudulent use of personal identification information of a person younger than 18, or a person 60 years or older without first obtaining their consent can be charged with a second-degree felony.
  • Fraudulent use or possession with intent to use personal identification information of a deceased individual – A person accused of the willful and fraudulent use or possession with intent to fraudulently use a deceased individual’s personal identification information faces a third-degree felony. Important: this offense follows the same guidelines as a standard identity theft charge, meaning that the exact penalties will depend on the alleged injury or fraud perpetrated.
  • Fraudulent creation or use, or possession with intent to fraudulently use, counterfeit or fictitious personal identification information – A person accused of the willful and fraudulent creation, use, or possession with intent to fraudulently use counterfeit or fictitious personal identification information concerning a fictitious individual or a real individual without their consent and for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of a fraud of another person faces a third-degree felony.

Outside of Florida Statute 817.568, the following lists other crimes relating to identity theft:

  • Obtaining property by false personation – Florida Statute Section 817.02 explains that it is unlawful for a person to receive any property for personal use through false impersonation or representation of another person. A person convicted of this offense is punished as if they had been convicted of larceny. In Florida, larceny is charged as either petit theft or grand theft.
  • Unlawful possession of the personal identification information of another person – Florida Statute Section 817.5685 explains that it is unlawful for any person to intentionally or knowingly possess another person’s personal identification information without authorization in any form, including, but not limited to, mail, physical documents, identification cards, or information stored in digital form. The level of the offense for this charge depends on how much personal information a person is convicted of possessing:
  • Possessing the personal identification information of four (4) or fewer persons is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Possessing the personal identification information of five (5) or more persons is considered a third-degree felony.

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Penalties for Identity Theft in Leon County

While some of the offenses listed above carry mandatory minimum sentences, the following lists provides the maximum penalties for each level of fraudulent offense:

  • Petit Larceny or Petit Theft (less than $300)
    Conviction carries up to one year in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000
  • Grand Larceny or Grand Theft (more than $300)
    Conviction carries up to 15 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000
  • First-degree misdemeanor
    Conviction carries up to one year in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000
  • Third-degree felony
    Conviction carries up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $5,000
  • Second-degree felony
    Conviction carries up to 15 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000
  • First-degree felony
    Conviction carries up to 30 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000

If you have questions about which type of white-collar crime you’re being accused of, contact the skilled defenses attorneys with Pumphrey Law Firm.

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Federal Identity Theft Charges

Due to the rise of identity theft and its harmful impact on Americans, Congress passed the 1998 Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act. Under 18 U.S.C § 1028, it is a federal offense for any person to knowingly possess, produce, or transfer a false or fraudulent identification document of another person. Additionally, attempting to commit any unlawful activity that would constitute a federal offense, which involves the use of a fake or fraudulent ID can be charged as a federal offense. Depending on the case details, individuals convicted of a federal identity theft crime can face between 5 – 30 years in federal prison.

The following lists federal legislation relating to identity theft and other fraudulent acts:

  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) of 2003 – Amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to improve protections for identity theft victims and created responsibilities for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other federal financial agencies to establish “Red Flag Rules” that require creditors, financial institutions, and other businesses or organizations to implement written identity theft prevention programs.
  • Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 – Defined and established penalties for aggravated identity theft (using another person’s identity to commit felony crimes).
  • Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008 – Amended Title 18 U.S.C. § 3663(b) by clarifying and expanding the jurisdiction for multiple cybercrime offenses as well as granting federal courts the authority to require convicted defendants to pay victims indirectly associated costs “equal to the value of the time reasonably spent by the victim in an attempt to remediate the intended or actual harm incurred by the victim from the offense.”

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Defenses to an Identity Theft charge

While facing the potential of a white-collar crime conviction is unnerving, it’s important for the defendant to understand that there may be defenses available to get the charges against you being reduced or dismissed. When you consult Pumphrey Law firm, our attorneys will give you a free consultation going over defenses that can include, but are not limited to:

  • Consent from alleged victim – In Florida, the State must prove the defendant obtained another person’s personal identification information without their consent. If the alleged victim consented to the defendant’s possession or use of such information, this could be a valid defense against a conviction.
  • Lack of intent to defraud or cause harm to another person Florida law uses the term “willfully” when describing the offense of taking another person’s identification information. A defendant who had no intention of obtaining the information, or who obtained the information by mistake, may be able to use this defense strategy to combat an identity theft conviction.
  • Personal identification information was legally acquired through business services If the alleged victim’s information was legally obtained, through the services of a business or other venture, they may not be able to claim that their identity was stolen. A Tallahassee defense attorney can review your case details to determine if the identification information was lawfully obtained.
  • Lack of evidence The State cannot secure a conviction without sufficient evidence to prove the defendant committed identity theft beyond a reasonable doubt. If the opposing counsel lacks evidence to support their claim, a defense attorney can argue on your behalf that there is a lack of evidence.
  • Misidentification It is possible that a defendant is wrongfully accused of a crime. If they were wrongfully accused by the alleged victim or a witness, a defense attorney can challenge it and claim misidentification as a defense.

Keep in mind that every case will be different in its context and specific case details. Call the office of Pumphrey Law today to receive a free consultation to go over the facts of your case.

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Find the Best Identity Theft Lawyer in Tallahassee

The laws surrounding identity theft are complex and can leave a person not familiar with the legal field feeling confused about what to do next. If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for an alleged identity theft crime, seeking legal representation should be your top priority. An experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the legal proceedings and help build a defense aimed at getting the charges lessened or dismissed.

Pumphrey Law fights criminal charges for clients all over Leon County and surrounding areas such as Madison County, Bay County, and Okaloosa County. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are licensed to practice in all Florida state courts as well as the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. Call our office today at (850) 681-7777 to take advantage of a free consultation.


Page Updated January 30, 2024

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