Los Angeles Identity Theft Lawyer
What is False Impersonation/False Personation?
Identity Theft is codified into California Law under Penal Code Chapter 8, entitled “False Personation and Cheats.”
Penal Code Chapter 8 section 529, makes it a crime to “falsely personate another in either his or her private or official capacity, and in that assumed character do any of the following:
- Become bail or surety for any party in any proceeding whatever, before any court or officer authorized to take that bail or surety.
- Verify, publish, acknowledge, or prove, in the name of another person, any written instrument, with the intent that the same may be recorded, delivered, or used as true.
- Do any other act whereby, if done by the person falsely personated, he might, in any event, become liable to any suit or prosecution, or to pay any sum of money, or to incur any charge, forfeiture, or penalty, or whereby any benefit might accrue to the party personating, or to any other person.”
What Does that Mean in English?
In English, identity theft, or ID theft, occurs when a person pretends to be someone else when they’re bonding someone out of jail, when they’re writing or signing a document intending the document to be legally effective, or when committing any kind of civil wrong or crime.
In English, ID theft is illegal and identity theft charges are serious. In other words, you can’t misrepresent yourself and make people believe that you are someone else. You just can’t.
Identity theft takes many forms. Some of the most common types of identity theft include:
- Financial identity theft – This is the most common type which involves using someone else’s information for financial gain. This can include using someone else’s social security number to get a loan or credit card or using someone’s bank account or credit card in order to steal their money.
- Child identity theft – Opening credit card accounts or obtaining loans under a child’s name and social security number.
Medical identity theft – Using someone else’s information and/or insurance in order to get medical care in that person’s name. This can include medical treatment, obtaining prescription medication (prescription fraud), and obtaining medical equipment.
- Synthetic identity theft – Creating a fake identity using information that is real, fake, or a combination of real and fake. For instance, using a fake name attached to a real social security number.
- Estate identity theft – Using the personal information of someone who is deceased to get a credit card, obtain a loan, or seal money.
- Welfare identity theft – A type of welfare fraud that involves using someone else’s information to obtain government assistance, such as food stamps, WIC, or welfare.
- Tax identity theft – Using someone else’s personal information to file a tax return and steal their refund.
- Employment identity theft – Using someone else’s personal information to pass a background check for a job or to get a job.
- Senior identity theft – Using an elderly person’s information to commit identity theft, including financial identity theft, medical identity theft, or tax identity theft.
- Criminal identity theft – Providing someone else’s personal information as their own identity when they are arrested for a crime.
California takes identity theft very seriously. The penalties can be steep. If you have been charged with this crime, you need good legal representation. An identity theft lawyer understands the complex California identity theft laws and is best equipped to ensure your rights are protected.
Penalties for Identity Theft in California
The identity theft series, Penal Code sections 528 through 539 describes numerous other, more specific crimes and their varying punishments. This article focuses primarily on the broadest identity theft statute, False Personation under Penal Code section 529.
Per Penal Code section 529(b) False Impersonation is punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony
- As a felony: $10,000 fine and 16 months or 2 or 3 years in state prison
- As a misdemeanor: $1,000 fine and up to 1 year in county jail.
Also, under Article I section 28 of the California constitution, any person convicted of a crime must be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is the amount that the victim lost because of the alleged criminal conduct. So, in addition to fines and jail, a person will generally be ordered to repay whatever value that was allegedly taken.
Defenses to Identity Theft Charges
To convict a defendant of false personation under Penal Code section 529, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt
- The defendant falsely impersonated another person in the other person’s private or official capacity AND
- While falsely impersonating that person, the defendant bonded someone out of jail OR wrote or signed a document intending the document to be legally effective OR committed any kind of civil wrong or crime.
There is no specific mental state for this crime other than the intention of impersonating someone else.
However, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to show you are guilty of the crime. You only need to raise a reasonable doubt as to one element of the offense to secure a not guilty verdict.
So, the strongest identity theft defense is simply that the defendant IS the person he or she held claims to be, or that he or she DID NOT present as someone else while bonding someone out of jail, writing or signing a legal document, or committing a civil wrong or crime.
Other defenses against identity theft are more general in nature but can be very effective in raising doubt. These defenses include:
- Were you, in fact, authorized to use the identity?
- Is the evidence substantial enough for a conviction?
- Is your case lacking specific intent?
- Was there an error or defect in the search warrant?
- Were you subject to illegal search and seizure?
- Does the action lack unlawful purpose or fraudulent intent?
Hiring an Experienced Identity Theft Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
If you are facing identity theft charges, don’t wait to see what happens. Immediately contact an experienced lawyer. You are going to need one. At Manshoory Law Group, APC our Los Angeles identity theft lawyers are ready to help.
In your consultation, we’ll analyze the specific facts of your case. Then we’ll prepare and present defenses before and during your trial to ensure your rights are protected. We’ll answer your questions and make sure you understand your rights and how each step of the legal process works.
The risks of an Identity Theft conviction are too great to go it alone. Don’t wait until it’s too late, let LA’s best criminal defense attorney begin your defense strategy today. (877) 977-7750.