Identity Theft


Identity Theft (PC 530.5):

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in California. Identity theft is essentially the taking of another person’s identify for use in an unlawful or fraudulent manner. Several unlawful examples of identity theft include (but are not limited to): to secure a personal financial benefit by using another person’s bank information to obtain a monetary gain, to cause the victim whose identity has been stolen to suffer a financial or emotional loss, or to escape criminal liability by using another person’s identifying information.

Penalties (PC 530.5):

Identity theft in California is considered a “wobbler,” giving the prosecutor the decision as to whether charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony.

  • If convicted with a felony under this statute, you can expect to serve up to three years in county jail and/or pay fines up to $10,000.
  • If convicted with a misdemeanor under this statute, you can expect to serve up to one year in county jail and/or pay a maximum fine of $1,000.
  • If you are convicted by the federal government, you face increased fines and up to 30 years in federal prison.

Legal Defenses (PC 530.5):

In order to be prosecuted with identity theft, the prosecutor must prove that you had criminal intent, and that there was an unlawful purpose in carrying out the crime. You may be the victim of mistaken identity or be falsely accused. Or you may protest that you did not use the information in connection with an unlawful or fraudulent manner. Our team of experienced defense attorney’s will review the evidence against you to create the best possible defense on your behalf.


Identity theft is someone taking personal information like your name, Social Security number, or financial account number and using it for an unlawful purpose. Everyday people, business owners, well-known celebrities, and children are prey to it. In California, all forms of identity theft are crimes (Penal Code section 530.5 et. seq.).

Identity thieves do many things in a victim’s name. They open new credit accounts, take out auto loans, enjoy medical services (and make insurance claims), and even commit crimes and generate criminal records.

Identity Theft Impacts

Identity theft does not discriminate. There were 13.1 million U.S. adult victims in 2013, or nearly one victim every two seconds. That figure represents 5.5% of U.S. adults, including over a 1.6 million Californians. The number of victims increased from 12.6 million in 2012.

Identity theft is also expensive. The total cost of identity theft in 2013 was $18 million, down from $21 million in 2012 . The decrease is the result of a sharp increase in the share of fraud involving existing credit/debit card accounts, which is less costly than other forms of identity theft.