If you have been charged with identity theft in the state of Arizona, this is a matter you should take seriously by retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney. Identity theft refers to the taking of someone’s personally identifiable information with the intent to commit fraud or any other kind of crime.

What Identity Theft Looks Like

Typically, the most common kind of identity theft is used to make money. Identity thieves steal credit card information, Social Security numbers, or other forms of a person’s identity in order to encourage someone else to pass along money.

That being said, not all forms of identity theft involve money. Sometimes, the removal of someone’s personally identifying information could be used to obtain a new job or government documents like a passport or a driver’s license. Entering another country or starting a new life using someone else’s credentials is still a form of identity theft even if it does not involve taking money.

Penalties for Identity Theft

In Arizona, identity theft is classified as a Class 4 felony. This means that the standard punishment in Arizona is two and a half years in prison, and that if convicted, you would need to live with the consequences of being classified a felon.

A similar charge to traditional identity theft is known as aggravated identity theft, and it refers to situations where the identity of three or more people is stolen. This charge can also be applied if the theft in question involves a person who suffered an economic loss of $1,000 or more. In this situation, you could be facing Class 3 felony charges with a presumptive prison time of three and a half years. As a result of these serious charges, you should always seek counsel from a criminal defense lawyer.

In addition, you could be looking at Class 2 felony charges if convicted of trafficking in the identity of another person. This involves knowingly transferring or selling personally identifying details about someone without that victim’s consent, or for any other illegal purpose with the intent to cause a loss. This offense carries a presumptive prison term of five years if you are convicted.

Defending These Charges

If you have been arrested for identity theft or accused of it, you may face harsh prosecution in federal or state court. It is wise to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who may be able to present evidence in your defense or to negotiate with the prosecution to reduce your charges and penalties. If you are cooperative or wiling to plead guilty, for example, the prosecution may be more willing to work with you regarding a lower sentence.

You should never minimize the importance of hiring an attorney, though, because he or she can be instrumental in negotiating these opportunities or gathering the right information to defend you in court. If your reputation and future is on the line because of an identity theft charge, reach out to a Mesa criminal defense lawyer sooner rather than later.

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. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.