Identity theft is an ever-growing problem affecting millions of Americans every year. In response, Texas and federal law enforcement have cracked down on the prosecution of identity theft. In addition to Texas laws relating to identity theft, in 2004, Congress passed 18 U.S.C. §1028A, which criminalized aggravated identity theft.
If you have been charged with aggravated identity theft or are the target of an investigation, it is critical to reaching out to an experienced Frisco criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You could be facing severe consequences.
What is Aggravated Identity Theft in Frisco?
Aggravated identity theft occurs when an individual knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses without permission, the identification of another person during or in relation to certain federal crimes or terrorism offenses. It is a more serious crime than general identity theft. You can only be charged with aggravated identity theft after you have committed another separate offense during which you used another individual’s stolen identity.
Types of stolen personal identification could include an individual’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, driver’s license number, passport number, telephone number, address, or Taxpayer Identification number.
To be convicted of aggravated identity theft, you must use a stolen identity during specific crimes that are outlined in the statute. Not every crime committed with a stolen identity will result in an aggravated identity theft conviction. The felonies enumerated in the statute include:
- Theft of public money, property, or records;
- Theft, embezzlement, or misplacement by a bank officer or employee;
- Theft from employee benefit plans;
- False personation of citizenship;
- False statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm;
- Mail, bank, and wire fraud;
- Certain nationality and citizenship violations;
- Certain passport and visa violations;
- Obtaining customer information by false pretenses;
- Certain violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act relating to willfully failing to leave the United States after deportation and creating a counterfeit alien registration card and various other immigration offenses;
- Certain violations of the Social Security Act relating to false statements about programs under the Act; and
- Certain terrorism offenses.
You can be charged with aggravated identity theft no matter where you live in the United States, including Frisco, Texas.
What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Identity Theft in Frisco?
In Texas, the penalty for aggravated identity theft acts as an enhancement. A conviction adds an additional two-sentence to penalties associated with general identity theft charges, which include significant fines and up to 15 years in prison. If your underlying crime was related to terrorism, the enhancement is increased to a mandatory five years.
The law requires that the prison terms are served consecutively (back-to-back). This means that the defendant must finish serving his first sentence before serving the additional two-year enhancement. The judge cannot allow you to serve your sentences concurrently (at the same time). Furthermore, the statute explicitly states that the judge cannot get around this requirement by reducing the sentence of the underlying crime to account for the two-year add-on. During the two-year enhancement, you cannot be placed on probation.
In addition to fines and prison time, a felony conviction can have a significant impact on your life. It can affect your employment, housing, and reputation in the community.
How Do You Defend Against Aggravated Identity Theft Charges in Frisco?
To be convicted of aggravated identity theft in Texas, the federal prosecutor must prove that you are guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense of your case will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your situation. Identity theft cases can become very complicated and technical, so it is critical to have an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney on your side.
Some common arguments that your attorney could make include:
- You were falsely accused.
- You were given permission by the individual to use their identifying information.
- You did not know that the identifying information belonged to another person.
- You did not use the stolen identity in connection with the underlying crime.
- You did not have the requisite intent to commit the crime.
Your Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing aggravated identity theft charges or is the target of an investigation, you should reach out to an experienced Frisco criminal defense attorney. Philip D. Ray is a knowledgeable Frisco attorney who will make sure that your rights are protected. Call Philip D. Ray today to schedule a consultation at (214) 845-7987.