Identity theft is a serious fraud crime. With more and more people using online banking, messaging, and shopping accounts, it’s never been easier to use another person’s identifying information for financial gain. As such, law enforcement and prosecutors will vigorously pursue you if they suspect you of committing identity theft. Regardless of your innocence or guilt, your chances of avoiding harsh criminal penalties are slim if you do not have a dependable Indianapolis identity theft attorney by your side.
The police and the prosecutor will pretend to be on your side. They will tell you that it’s in your best interest to admit fault and to move on with your life. But they’re just trying to make their job easier by obtaining a confession.
Exercise your right to remain silent and call Hessler Law, PC at (317) 886-8800 today. By acting decisively in the early stages of the criminal justice process, you stand a much greater chance of obtaining a positive resolution to your case.
Penalties for Identity Theft in Indiana
There are several Indiana statutes that pertain to identity theft, or identity deception as it is called in the penal code. The basic identity theft law is at section 35-43-5-3.5 of the Indiana penal code. It makes it illegal to knowingly or intentionally obtain, possess, transfer, or use the identifying information of any person besides yourself (including deceased people) without that person’s consent, and with the intent to:
- Harm or defraud another person (fraud occurs any time you lie, someone believes that lie, and you profit as a result)
- Assume another person’s identity
- Pretend to be someone else besides yourself
Generally, this form of identity theft is a level 6 felony punishable by six months to two and a half years of prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Under the following circumstances, however, identity theft is treated as a level 5 felony carrying a sentence of one to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000:
- You allegedly stole the identities of more than 100 people
- The fraud or harm to the victims exceeded $50,000
- One or more of the victims was under 18 years of age, and is your child, dependent, or someone else of whom you are the guardian
Importantly, you can still be convicted of identity theft even if no one was actually harmed. For example, if the police provide the prosecutor with evidence that you stole credit card numbers, but there is no evidence that you used them, you may still face felony charges.
The above penalties do not apply when a minor uses a fake ID to buy cigarettes or any other product not for sale to minors. Similarly, felony charges would not apply to someone under the age of 21 who used a fake ID to purchase alcohol. In both of these scenarios, misdemeanor charges would apply, resulting in a $500 fine and a one-year driver’s license suspension.
Penalties for Synthetic Identity Theft in Indiana
The Indiana penal code addresses synthetic identity theft – or synthetic identity deception – at section 35-43-5-3.8. This section is identical to the one addressing simple identity deception, except that it addresses the use of synthetic identifying information. Under Indiana law, synthetic identifying information refers to a fictional identity that is created by taking bits and pieces of actual identifying information, such as:
- Someone’s name, address, place of employment, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, or a government ID number
- Biometric data such as fingerprints or a retinal image
- Telecommunication identification such as usernames, passwords, and phone numbers
- Bank or credit card numbers, PIN codes, and account or routing numbers
When it comes to synthetic identity theft, the penalties are the same as for simple identity theft: generally a Level 6 felony, but a Level 5 felony when aggravating circumstances apply. When minors are accused, they will face misdemeanor charges if they committed synthetic identity deception to obtain alcohol, cigarettes, or other age restricted products.
How Can Hessler Law Help?
When you’ve been charged with a felony, you may feel like your back is against the wall. You face the prospect of prison, fines, reimbursing the alleged victims, and then dealing with restricted life opportunities once you’ve served your sentence. But you will face these penalties only if you are convicted of the crime. If you hire a skilled and experienced Indianapolis identity deception lawyer to handle the defense of your case, you may be able to avoid all or some of these penalties.
When your lawyer reviews the prosecution’s evidence against you, it may emerge that some of it can be removed from the case. From botched investigative work by the police to improper questioning or the illegal seizure of evidence, there may be several ways in which your defense lawyer can request the suppression of the prosecution’s evidence. At trial, the prosecutor must prove that every element of the crime of identity theft is true beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain your conviction. When your lawyer has undermined the prosecution’s evidence, proving your guilt becomes an uphill battle for the authorities.
Even if your case shows little likelihood of succeeding at either the trial or pretrial stages, a capable Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer can significantly improve your case outcome. If the prosecutor has offered you a plea deal, do not agree to it before talking to an attorney who can negotiate far more beneficial terms.
If you’re ready to give your case the defense it deserves, call Hessler Law, PC at (317) 886-8800 today for your free and confidential consultation.