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Is identity theft punishable by prison time?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2021 | White Collar Crimes

Even though many “identity protection services” now exist to track and monitor financial activity, the dark web and court records, identity theft continues in Texas and elsewhere. Being convicted of identity theft comes with serious criminal penalties; even jail time is possible when found guilty of identity theft.

A case of aggravated identity theft

Federal law established a two-year minimum sentence for aggravated identity theft. When a person engaged in identity theft to promote terrorism, the minimum penalty increases to a five-year sentence. The U.S. Code defines aggravated identity theft as instances where someone appropriates another person’s identity to commit a felony noted in the code. The felonies listed include embezzling, attempting to purchase a firearm, attempting to procure a passport, committing certain immigration offenses and more.

For example, if someone procures a false identification bearing another person’s name and attempts to purchase a gun, the statute would apply. Of course, there may be other federal crimes associated with the action. In this case, there could be firearms-related charges levied.

State-level charges for identity theft

The Texas Penal Code designates identity theft as a felony offense. As a result, if the federal government declined to prosecute, the accused may still face state charges.

The offense’s severity depends on the circumstances. A person who procured 75 different identities with the intent of withdrawing money from their bank account may face greater penalties than someone who stole one individual’s identification. However, stealing even one identity could still lead to a six-month to two-year prison sentence.

People facing identity theft charges could be subject to jail time if convicted. Like other white-collar crimes and all criminal offenses, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. A criminal defense attorney may be able to prove a defendant’s innocence in court.