The state of Texas takes all white collar criminal charges relating to fraud very seriously, and this is especially true for alleged offenders who have been accused of stealing the identities of innocent people. In recent years, this type of crime has become more common as people use the personal information of others in order to obtain credit or pay for services, but there has also been an increase in the number of ways for authorities to apprehend individuals who are illegally utilizing the identities of other people.
However, the additional attention this criminal offense has also led to some alleged offenders being arrested as a result of misunderstood but lawful uses of personal information. People who are facing these charges will want to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fully investigate their cases and aggressively challenge the prosecution’s evidence.
Georgetown Identity Theft Lawyer
If you are under investigation for allegedly stealing the identities of other people or you have been arrested for this charge, you should not delay in seeking legal counsel. Michael J. Price defends clients all over Williamson County against allegations of white collar crime and other criminal charges.
Price & Twine, PLLC serves the residents of Georgetown and such nearby communities as Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, Taylor, and Hutto. You can call (512) 354-1880 to schedule a free, confidential consultation that will let our firm review your case and discuss your legal options.
Williamson County Identity Theft Information Center
- What charges can a person face for this crime?
- What punishments might result from a conviction?
- Are there any defenses against these charges?
Texas Charges for Identity Theft
Offenses listed under state law relating to the theft of another party’s personal identification include:
- Fraudulent Use or Possession of Identifying Information, Texas Penal Code § 32.51 —A person commits this offense if he or she, with the intent to harm or defraud another, obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses an item of identifying information of another person without the other person’s consent, information concerning a deceased natural person, including a stillborn infant or fetus, that would be identifying information of that person were that person alive, if the item of information is obtained, possessed, transferred, or used without legal authorization, or identifying information of a child younger than 18 years of age. The alleged offender is presumed to have the intent to harm or defraud another if he or she possesses the identifying information of three or more other persons. This is a state jail felony if the number of items obtained, possessed, transferred, or used is less than five, a third-degree felony if the number of items is five or more but less than 10, a second-degree felony if the number of items is 10 or more but less than 50, and a first-degree felony if the number of items is 50 or more. However, the offense classification is increased to the next higher category if it is shown that the alleged offense was committed against an elderly individual or the alleged offender fraudulently used identifying information with the intent to facilitate a Failure to Comply With Registration Requirements offense under Texas Penal Code § 62.102.
- False Statement to Obtain Property or Credit or In the Provision of Certain Services, Texas Penal Code § 32.32 — A person commits this offense if he or she intentionally or knowingly makes a materially false or misleading written statement to obtain property or credit, including a mortgage loan, or intentionally or knowingly makes a materially false or misleading written statement in providing an appraisal of real property for compensation. This is a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the property or the amount of credit is less than $50, a Class B misdemeanor if the value is $50 or more but less than $500, a Class A misdemeanor if the value is $500 or more but less than $1,500, a state jail felony if the value is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000, a third-degree felony if the value is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000, a second-degree felony if the value is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000, a first-degree felony if the value is $200,000 or more.
As it relates to Texas Penal Code § 32.51, identifying information is defined as information that alone or in conjunction with other information identifies a person, including a person’s:
- Name and date of birth
- Unique biometric data, including the person’s fingerprint, voice print, or retina or iris image
- Unique electronic identification number, address, routing code, or financial institution account number
- Social security number or other government-issued identification number
- Telecommunication identifying information or telecommunication access device, which can mean a card, plate, code, account number, personal identification number, electronic serial number, mobile identification number, or other telecommunications service, equipment, or instrument identifier or means of account access that alone or in conjunction with another telecommunication access device may be used to either:
- Obtain money, goods, services, or other thing of value
- Initiate a transfer of funds other than a transfer originated solely by paper instrument
As it relates to Texas Penal Code § 32.32, the term credit includes:
- A loan of money
- Furnishing property or service on credit
- Extending the due date of an obligation
- Comaking, endorsing, or guaranteeing a note or other instrument for obtaining credit
- A line or letter of credit
- A credit card
- A mortgage loan
The following agencies can assist a prosecuting attorney of the United States, a county or judicial district of Texas, a county or state law enforcement agency of Texas, or a federal law enforcement agency in the investigation of an offense under Texas Penal Code § 32.32 involving a mortgage loan:
- The Office of the Attorney General
- The Department of Public Safety
- The Texas Department of Insurance
- The Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner
- The Texas Department of Banking
- The Credit Union Department
- The Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending
- The Texas Real Estate Commission
- The Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board
- The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Williamson County Identity Theft Penalties
The possible consequences of a conviction depend on the specific offense for which a person has been charged, but punishments may include:
- Class C Misdemeanor — Maximum fine of $500
- Class B Misdemeanor — Maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and maximum fine of $2,000
- Class A Misdemeanor — Maximum sentence of one year in jail and maximum fine of $4,000
- State Jail Felony — Maximum sentence of two years in state jail and maximum fine of $10,000
- Third-Degree Felony — Maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and maximum fine of $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony — Maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and maximum fine of $10,000
- First-Degree Felony — Maximum sentence of 99 years or life in prison and maximum fine of $10,000
A court may also order a person convicted of an offense under Texas Penal Code § 32.51 to make restitution to the victim of the offense, including reimbursement for lost income and other expenses, not including attorney’s fees, incurred as a result of the offense.
Identity Theft Defenses in Texas
Texas Penal Code § 32.51 specifically states that the presumption of intent to harm or defraud another does not apply to a business or other commercial entity or a government agency that is engaged in a business activity or governmental function that does not violate a penal law of Texas. Some of the other possible legal defenses an alleged offender may have against allegations of stealing another party’s identity include, but are not limited to:
- Identifying information did not belong to another person
- Lack of evidence
- No criminal intent
- Owner of identifying information gave consent for its usage
Price & Twine, PLLC | Identity Theft Lawyer in Georgetown, TX
However honest your intentions may have genuinely been, you should not assume that a prosecutor has your best interests in mind if you are under investigation for or have been charged with stealing the identity of another person. You should give yourself the best chance at a favorable outcome to your case by contacting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Price & Twine, PLLC fights to defend clients in Georgetown and greater Williamson County, but our firm also serves areas of Bell County like Killeen, Temple, Harker Heights, and Belton. Call (512) 354-1880 today to have Georgetown criminal defense attorney Michael J. Price review your case during a free legal consultation.