This Halloween scores of children teens and even adults will be changing their identity. There will be witches and vampires ghosts and goblins.  I am certain there will even be some who dress as modern-day icons like politicians, sports heroes and movie stars.  It will all be done in the name of fun and with the hopes of many of getting lots of candy.

Unlike Halloween, the crime of identity theft is not a holiday or a game.  Identity theft in Arizona punishes anyone who takes, purchases, manufacturers, records, possesses or uses any personal identifying information or entity identifying information of another person or entity including a real or fictitious person or entity without the consent of the other person with the intent to use that identity for any unlawful purpose even if the person or entity does not suffer an actual loss as a result of the crime.

What does that mean? Clearly, if someone steal another’s credit information and use that information to obtain a loan, they have committed the crime of identity theft even if that doesn’t harm the other person financially.  However, even if the identity used is not a real identity, if an individual uses a fake identity to do something illegal they have committed the crime of identity theft. For example, a college student sends an email from Mickey Mouse to university threatening the University with a bomb so that he can get out of an exam.  In addition to other crimes, this individual would be guilty of identity theft for creating a fictitious ID for the purpose of committing another crime.  Even though no one’s actual identity was taken this individual has committed the crime of identity theft.  Unlike Halloween, changing your identity, even if you don’t take an actual person’s identity in order to do that, is a crime if you do that for the purpose of committing another crime.

Identity theft is a class 4 felony and is punishable, like any other phone in Arizona with the possibility of probation but could also include prison time under the right circumstances.

Identity theft can also be aggravated if the base crime of identity theft is committed for the purpose of obtaining employment or if it actually cost causes an economic loss to the victim of $3000 or more or if three or more identities are taken.  Aggravated identity theft is a class 3 felony and a much more serious offense then simple identity theft. It is also punishable by the possibility of probation or prison on the right circumstances.

The most serious offense involving identity theft is trafficking in identifying information. Anyone who sells, transfers or otherwise transmits someone else’s identity or identifying information without consent for any unlawful purpose commits the crime of trafficking in the identity of another person or entity.  We see and hear how advertisements on the time for identity theft protection. Clearly there are many in our society and around the world who would love to obtain a person’s personal identifying information. This information is valuable for many reasons and can be sold because of that value.  As a result trafficking in identifying information is a class 2 felony and is one of the most serious offenses in the state of Arizona.

Dressing up for Halloween is fun and a great way to get free candy.  However, under the revised identity theft laws, if you change your identity, even with a fictitious identity (e.g. Scooby Doo) for the purpose of committing a crime, you have committed a felony in the state of Arizona.  Many individuals have or have had in the past a fake id for the purpose of buying alcohol or tobacco because they are underage.   Using that ID to commit the crime of purchasing alcohol or tobacco illegally used to be routinely prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense.  However, now this seemingly harmless juvenile infraction could be easily prosecuted as a felony.

 

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Criminal Law Attorney, Garrett L. Smith at  480.461.   log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area.