A Comprehensive Guide To Identity Theft Charges In Florida
Identity theft is a considerable issue in the United States. According to data from the National Council of Identity Theft Protection, there were 5.7 million reports of identity theft nationwide in 2021—a sharp increase from prior years. Police and prosecutors in Florida are cracking down on identity theft. It is a serious crime that could potentially carry felony charges. Here, our Tampa theft defense attorney provides an in-depth guide to identity theft charges in Florida.
Florida Law: Identity Theft Charges
There are federal identity theft laws on the books. However, most identity theft charges are brought under state law. In Florida, identity theft is typically charged under Florida Statutes § 817.568. In order to secure a conviction in an identity theft case in Florida, the prosecution must establish these two key elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant willfully used—or knowingly possessed with intent to use—the personal identifying information of another person for the purposes of defrauding them; and
- The defendant did not have the authorization to use the other person’s sensitive personal information.
Information is Defined Broadly Under Florida Law
Florida’s identity theft statute defines the term “information” in a relatively broad manner. It includes but is not limited to the following:
- Phone number;
- Bank account information;
- Maiden name;
- Social Security number (SSN);
- Passport number; and
- Driver’s license number.
Identity Theft is Often Charged as a Felony in Florida
Florida takes identity theft allegations very seriously. The crime is frequently charged as a felony offense. A number of different factors will affect the severity of a criminal identity theft charge in Florida—with the most important factors being the amount that was allegedly “stolen” and the alleged amount of victims.
Most often, identity theft is charged as a third degree felony offense in Florida. It carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and payment of restitution. However, if the total value of the money/property that was allegedly defrauded from the victim(s) exceeds $5,000, identity theft can be charged as a second degree felony offense.
You Have the Right to Defend Yourself Against Identity Theft Charges
Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. There are a number of different defenses that can be raised in identity theft cases. For example, a defendant may be able to defend a charge based on the fact that they had no intent to defraud the victim. Alternatively, a defendant may argue that they actually did have authorization to use the personal information in question. Ultimately, every identity theft charge should be defended on a case-by-case basis. An experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney will protect your rights.
Contact Our Tampa, FL Identity Theft Defense Lawyer Today
At Faulkner Law Group, PLLC, our Tampa criminal defense attorney is a former prosecutor committed to protecting the rights of clients. If you or someone close to you was arrested for identity theft, we can help. Contact us today for a no cost, confidential consultation. From our Tampa office, we defend identity theft charges in Hillsborough County and throughout the wider area.