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Identity Theft

Identity theft is becoming more common in Texas and across the country. A lot of identity theft is committed online but it often still involves someone going to a gas station or check-cashing business and using a fake I.D. Identity theft may involve trying to get $50 worth of groceries or getting a mortgage in someone else's name. 

Identity theft is generally a felony, which can result in serious prison time, fines, and a felony record. Unfortunately, the police or prosecutors may claim someone committed identity theft when there was just a mix-up or misunderstanding. If you or someone you know was charged with identity theft in Texas, contact Texas criminal lawyer Jason S. English to fight for your rights, stay out of jail, and keep a felony conviction off your record.

Identity Theft in Texas

Under Texas Penal Code § 32.51, identity theft is called “fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.” Identity theft involves using identifying information of another person with the intent to harm or defraud another. 

Identifying Information

Identifying information is defined as information that identifies a person. This includes living persons, deceased persons, or children younger than the age of 18. Identifying information can include:

  • 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;
  • Telecommunication identifying information or access device; and
  • Social security number or other government-issued identification numbers.

Intent to Defraud

Possession or use of identifying information may not be enough for an identity theft conviction. For example, an underage college student who uses someone else's ID to get into a bar may not be intending to defraud or harm another person. Using a fake ID would still be subject to a violation but would not necessarily be considered identity theft. 

The intent to defraud is generally demonstrated by how the individual allegedly used the information, such as to make an online purchase or cash a check in someone else's name. Intent to defraud can be presumed, depending on the situation. For example, intent can be presumed where the defendant possesses the identifying information of three or more persons. 

Penalties for Identity Theft in Texas

Identity theft is a felony offense in Texas. The penalties for identity theft may depend on the number of items obtained, possessed, transferred, or used in identity theft, as follows: 

Number of Items

Criminal Charge

Fine

Jail or Prison

Less than 5

State Jail Felony

Up to $10,000

180 days to 2 years

5 to less than 10

3rd Degree Felony

Up to $10,000

2-10 years

10 to less than 50

2nd Degree Felony

Up to $10,000

2-20 years

50 or more

1st Degree Felony

Up to $10,000

5-99 years

The penalties for identity theft may be enhanced when the offense is committed against an elderly individual. 

Consequences of a conviction for identity theft may also include making restitution to the victim, including reimbursement for lost income, expenses, and attorney's fees. Consequences of any felony conviction may also result in: 

  • Voting restrictions, 
  • Restrictions on holding certain offices, 
  • Difficulty finding a job,
  • Difficulty getting housing, 
  • Restrictions on certain professions, and
  • Prohibited from owning a firearm.  

Austin Criminal Defense Attorney

Jason S. English was a criminal prosecutor for 15 years. He understands how prosecutors approach fraud and identity theft cases and how they try and get the accused to plead guilty. Before pleading guilty to any crime, make sure you understand your rights and options to fight the criminal charges. 

If you are accused of identity theft in Texas, it is important to speak to a criminal defense attorney right away. Contact Texas defense lawyer Jason S. English online or call (512) 454-7548.

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