The government is cracking down hard on identity theft. If you are facing identity theft charges in St. Petersburg, you have to know the severity of the crime as well as your best defense. At Goldman Wetzel, we take the time to understand your situation so we can protect your rights and represent you effectively. Our legal team handles both federal and state cases and can help you build a solid defense.
Florida’s Definition of Identity Theft
The Florida Office of the Attorney General’s website provides this detailed definition: “Identity theft or identity fraud (true name fraud) is the criminal act of taking a victim’s identity for the purpose of:
- obtaining credit;
- credit cards from banks and/or retailers;
- stealing money from the victim’s existing accounts;
- applying for loans in the victim’s name;
- establishing accounts with utility companies;
- leasing automobiles and residences;
- filing bankruptcy; and/or even
- obtaining employment.”
The state statutes summarize illegal activity as the act when someone uses or possesses with intent to use fraudulently, personal identification information concerning an individual without first obtaining that individual’s consent.
What types of identity theft-related crimes does Florida recognize?
Taking and using someone else’s identity information is a broad type of identity fraud crime. Our attorneys have been handling these types of cases for some time, and we’ve come across several forms of charges, including the following.
- Fraud using the deceased’s information — If the offender uses a deceased person’s ID information to garner goods in excess of $5,000, it’s considered a second-degree felony. This and related charges are covered in Florida Statutes Annotated section 817.568(8).
- Larceny — This crime, detailed in Florida Statutes Annotated section 817.02, is the act of purchasing or otherwise obtaining property by impersonating someone else.
- Harassment — According to Florida Statutes Annotated section 817.568(4), using someone’s ID information in an effort to harass him or her is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Fraud against minors — If the victim is younger than 18, using his or her ID info without their permission — even if you are the child’s parent — is considered a second-degree felony, as per Florida Statutes Annotated section 817.568(6).
Penalties for Criminal Use of Personal Information (Identity Theft) and Economic Gain in Florida:
- Under $5,000 – classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, and a $5,000 fine.
- $5,000 or more OR stolen IDs of 10 people or more – classified as a second-degree felony, punishable by 15 years of imprisonment with a mandatory 3-year minimum prison sentence, and a $10,000 fine [817.568(2)(b)].
- $50,000 or more OR stolen IDs of 20 people or more – classified as a first-degree felony, punishable by 30 years of imprisonment with a mandatory 5-year minimum prison sentence, and a $10,000 fine [817.568(2)(c)].
- $100,000 or more OR stolen IDs of 30 people or more – mandatory 10-year minimum prison sentence [817.568(2)(c)(2)].
Other possible penalties include probation and restitution.
What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney
There are several things you’ll want to look for when seeking a criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg to represent you. They include:
- A solid background in criminal law;
- Good AVVO ratings and state bar certification;
- Experience handling both federal and state cases;
- An established practice with a successful case history;
- Good rapport with the lawyer and trust in his or her abilities;
- A willingness to explain your options patiently and in a way you understand;
- Negotiation skills combined with grit and determination; and
- Transparency about fees.
Summer Goldman and Beth Wetzel meet all the above qualifications and will be happy to discuss your identity theft case with you. Contact our firm today at 727-828-3900 for a free consultation.