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How is identity theft treated in California?

Identity theft occurs far more often than most might think. Those affected by this type of activity can be impacted significantly, both emotionally and financially. This is a crime that is not taken lightly in California, and anyone who has been accused of committing identity theft may face a variety of serious penalties if convicted.

Current state laws are very clear regarding identity theft. It is considered a crime to obtain another person's information without his or her knowledge and use that information for personal gain. Personal gain means using the information for one's own benefit.

In order for a person to be convicted of this criminal offense, the prosecuting attorney will have to show that any information taken by the accused was taken for illegal purposes. A few examples of what are considered unlawful or illegal purposes are:

  • Selling the information
  • Applying for credit
  • Securing goods
  • Accessing medical records

The state has an extensive list of personal information that, if taken unlawfully, may garner criminal charges for those accused of committing this type of crime. Some of the types of information on this list include Social Security numbers, names, phone numbers and even all kinds of financial information. The only time that utilizing any of this information may be considered legal is if the owner of the data has given consent.

California residents who have been charged with identity theft may face a variety of potential consequences if convicted, including fines and imprisonment. A person's previous criminal record -- if there is one -- along with the circumstances of the alleged crime can increase the severity of any punishments handed down. A person who has been accused of identity theft, or any other crime for that matter, may employ a criminal defense team to supply legal guidance, as well as representation in court. These individuals have a thorough understanding of the criminal court system and can provide necessary support during a challenging time.

Source: FindLaw, "California Identity Theft Laws", Accessed on May 28, 2015

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results