In today's connected and digital world, anyone may fall victim to identity theft. However, a recent study has shown that Californians suffer identity theft more than most in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute, California had the third-highest rate of identity theft in the country in 2019, with 257 reported cases per 100,000 residents. As individuals in Santa Barbara, CA, and around the country become increasingly dependent on the internet to manage everyday tasks, identity theft numbers continue to soar.
If you've been accused of identity theft, do not wait to consult with an experienced California identity theft lawyer. At Aron Law Firm, our skilled identity theft attorneys may investigate the issue, build a robust defense, and advocate for your rights and freedom in court.
What Constitutes Identity Theft in Santa Barbara, California?
The straightforward definition of identity theft is obtaining a person's identifying information (PII), such as their Social Security number or password, thereby committing fraud. Identity theft in Santa Barbara is established under California Penal Code 530.5 as:
“Every person who willfully obtains personal identifying information…of another person, and uses that information for any unlawful purpose, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, real property, or medical information without the consent of that person, is guilty of a public offense...”
To convict you of identity theft in Santa Barbara, the prosecution must prove that:
- You willfully obtained someone's personal identifying information or PII and used it for unlawful purposes without their consent;
- You took someone's PII without their permission with the intent to commit fraud;
- You gave, sold, or transferred someone's PII without their consent with the intent to commit fraud; and
- You gave, sold, or transferred someone's PII with the actual knowledge that it will be used to commit fraud.
In most instances, identity theft involves gaining access to someone's mail or computer data to use personal information to open an account and fraudulently gain funds that belong to the victim. In other instances, identity theft may involve forging a signature on someone else's check or even giving law enforcement someone else's driver's license information to avoid a citation.
What Are Examples of Personal Identification Information (PII)?
There are different types of PII someone may fraudulently collect, possess, or use to commit fraud, including a person's:
- Legal name
- Social Security number
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Location of birth
- Driver's license number
- Passport information
- School ID numbers
- Government ID numbers
- Mother's maiden name
- Credit card numbers
- Bank account information
What Are Penalties for Identity Theft in Santa Barbara?
In Santa Barbara, identity theft is considered a wobbler offense, meaning the state may prosecute this crime as a misdemeanor or a felony. The court considers the defendant's criminal history, the scope of the financial damage caused, and any other relevant facts to the case before deciding whether to prosecute identity theft as a misdemeanor or felony.
Penalties following a conviction of a misdemeanor charge of identity theft may include:
- Summary probation
- Jail sentence of up to one year
- Restitution and fines up to $1,000
If you are convicted of a felony charge of identity theft, you may face the following penalties:
- Felony probation
- Jail sentence of up to three years
- Restitution and fines up to $10,000
Additionally, a conviction results in a criminal record that may follow you for the rest of your life. Suppose you suspect you're under investigation for identity theft or any type of fraudulent activity in Santa Barbara or across California. In that case, we highly recommend that you contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible.
Legal Defenses against Identity Theft Charges
While being accused of the criminal offense of identity theft may be a disturbing experience, the identity theft attorneys at Aron Law Firm have vast experience in all aspects of identity theft and fraud defense. No matter how hopeless your situation may feel, there are several approaches we may use in your legal defense, including:
- You did not intend to commit identity theft
- You were falsely accused of the crime
- You were a victim of mistaken identity
- You had the authorization to obtain and use the identifying information
- You did not use the information for any unlawful or fraudulent purpose
Criminal allegations for identity theft are serious matters in Santa Barbara. If you have been accused of identity theft or other fraudulent activities, contact an expert criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Aron Law Firm, we evaluate the prosecution's evidence and investigate the charges against our clients in great detail and build a strong defense.
Consult an Experienced Santa Barbara Identity Theft Lawyer
At Aron Law Firm, our Santa Barbara identity theft attorneys have considerable experience litigating identity theft crimes, allowing us to defend our clients in legal proceedings at both the state and federal levels. Led by former Deputy District Attorney William M. Aron, our firm uses this knowledge to provide a robust defense for clients under investigation for Santa Barbara identity theft crimes.
To speak with a knowledgeable identity theft defense attorney at Aron Law Firm, schedule a free and confidential case review by completing our contact form or calling (805) 618-1768.