Identity Theft Defense Attorney Los Angeles

A credit card kept on a table in Los Angeles, CAIdentity theft is a serious crime in Los Angeles and throughout California.  The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office created a special unit dedicated to prosecuting identity theft crimes; they aggressively file cases and pursue convictions in all identity theft cases no matter how minor.  If you are facing an identity theft crime, it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case.

Identity Theft Offenses

Identity theft is a broad category of offenses which run the gamut from mere possession of someone else’s identifying information without their permission to the use of someone else’s identity to obtain credit, goods or services.

Identity theft laws in California are constructed in such a way that someone can be convicted of a felony identity theft crime even if the victim suffers no financial harm. In other words , even if someone is does not even attempt to purchase products from a store with fraudulent gift card or stolen credit card number, and even if the person whose identity was stolen was not financially harmed, the person who attempted the purchase will still be charged with identity theft.

Often people are caught up in major identity theft rings without realizing it.  Someone may have only deposited one bad check in a bank account for a friend,  shopped with a gift card that turned out to be funded with a stolen credit card, or signed somebody else’s name to an official document only to find out later that you are part of a major identity theft ring.  Organizers of major identity theft schemes often keep other participants in the dark about the extent of the enterprise.  Sometimes people are wrongly accused of identity theft altogether due to “guilt by association”.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues – Alternative Sentencing

There are also many instances where one’s involvement in identity theft is the result of underlying substance abuse or other mental health issues.  In these cases, we work with clients in developing a program of treatment.  A client’s commitment to treating these underlying issues is often helpful in mitigating the harsh punishments sought in identity theft cases.

Elements of Identity Theft

Under the Judicial Council of California’s criminal jury instructions, to obtain a conviction for the most common identity theft charge under California Penal code Section 530.5(a).  The prosecution must prove:

1)      The defendant purposefully and willingly obtained the personal identifying information of another person.

2)      Without the other person’s permission, the defendant used the personal identifying information to obtain (or attempt to obtain) credit, goods, services, real estate, medical information, a restraining order, or any other unlawful purpose.

Some of the most common allegations identity theft cases:

  • Manufacturing and selling illegal credit cards or driver’s licenses and selling
  • Using stolen social security numbers to obtain credit and open bank accounts. Depositing stolen checks in the bank account and then withdrawing the cash.
  • Allegations that a stolen credit card was used to purchase a retail gift card.
  • “Skimming”- Installing a data capture device inside a credit card reader at a retail store of a gas station.
  • Computer and internet crimes such as phishing or spoofing.

There are numerous other offenses related to petty theft including computer hacking, grand theft, receiving stolen property, burglary, forgery, and perjury.

Identity Theft Defense Attorney

If you are facing identity theft charges in Los Angeles, do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation.

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