NYC Identity Theft Attorneys
Identity theft is even older than the internet, though it keeps evolving as technology becomes more advanced. For that reason, the laws meant to protect people are constantly changing as well. Currently, the New York penal code distinguishes four types of identity crimes, each one with its own characteristics and its own unique penalties.
Identity Theft in the Third Degree
Under section PEN § 190.78 of the New York penal code, third degree identity theft requires that the individual takes on the identity of another and pretends to be that person for the purpose of committing fraud. The law specifies that the act must be intentional, as well. The individual may also use information, such as credit cards or social security numbers, to act under the other person’s name.
In addition to gaining wealth, material possessions, or services with the victim’s identity, the identity theft may also be committed with the intent to cause harm. The harm may be caused against the victim, but this isn’t always the case. The law recognizes that identity theft may be committed in an attempt to cause financial harm to a third party, as well.
Identity theft in third degree is also established, where the individual uses the identity of another to commit a crime. The crime must be a class A misdemeanor or higher in this case.
The crime of third degree identity theft is a class A misdemeanor itself. As such, it carries a penalty of up to one year of imprisonment. A fine of up to $1,000 may also be assigned, or the court may assign a fine up to double the value of the theft committed.
Identity Theft in the Second Degree
The definition provided in PEN § 190.79 for second degree identity theft is similar to that for identity theft in the third degree. While both laws establish that the individual must intentionally assume the identity of the other person to obtain money, goods, and services, the value of that gain must exceed $500. Similarly, where the identity theft is committed to cause financial loss, either to the victim or to a third party, the worth of that loss must also exceed the $500 minimum.
Additionally, second degree identity theft may be committed for the purposes of committing a felony. The individual may also act as an accessory to a felony crime, while assuming the identity of another person.
A crime of identity theft in the third degree may be promoted to a second degree charge, where the perpetrator had been previously convicted of third degree identity theft. That previous crime must have been committed within the past five years. Other prior identity crimes may also cause the charge to be upgraded to second degree identity theft, as well.
Identity theft in the second degree is a class E felony under New York law. It carries a prison term of up to four years. Also, a $5,000 fine may be imposed, or a fine equivalent to double the value of the defendant’s gain from the crime.
Identity Theft in the First Degree
PEN § 190.80 of the New York State penal code establishes that identity theft can be promoted to the first degree, where the value or profit of the crime meets or exceeds $2,000. This includes using another person’s identity to obtain money, material possessions, or services, as well as using a false identity to cause financial harm to the victim or to a third party. Also, where another’s identity is used to commit a class D felony or higher, the charge of first degree identity theft is justified. This applies to instances where the defendant uses another’s identity to act as an accessory to a class D or higher felony.
If the defendant has committed second degree identity theft or other identity crimes within the past five years and is charged with second degree identity theft, that charge may be promoted to the first degree status.
Identity theft in the first degree is a class D felony. As such, the defendant may be subject to a prison term of up to 7 years. A fine may also be imposed in addition to or in place of imprisonment. The court may assign a fine of $5,000 or a sum equal to double the amount gained through the act of identity theft.
While each of these crimes carries its own penalties, they are all serious legal matters to face. It’s important to have an experienced attorney working with you, if you are charged with identity theft. A legal advocate can help you improve your chances in court or may be able to work out a favorable deal with the prosecutor. Attempting to defend yourself is never a wise course of action.