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Texas Identity Theft: It Wasn’t Me

Posted on March 28, 2014 by Mintzer Law

Identity theft is a serious criminal offense in the state of Texas for which a person could be sentenced to serve time in a state jail. Because of the damage caused by this crime and the disruption it can create in a victim’s life, courts are empowered to order a defendant to pay restitution, attorney’s fees, lost income and other expenses to the person whose identifying information was stolen.

Identity Theft in Texas

The penal code in Texas makes it a crime to obtain, possess or use the identifying information of another person. Possession of identifying information of three or more people is presumed to be for the intent of causing harm or committing a fraudulent act. Identifying information includes the following:

  • A person’s name, date of birth, social security number or government-issued identification
  • Biometric data such as fingerprints, voice prints and retina image
  • Electronic identifying information such as passwords and user names
  • Bank or financial institution account numbers, routing numbers or identification codes
  • Debit cards, debit card numbers and other telecommunication access information or device

Identity theft is a crime regardless of whether the identifying information is from a person who is living or dead or if it is from an adult or a child.

Penalties Judges May Impose

Identity theft in Texas is a state jail felony. Law enforcement and prosecutors consider the possession of identifying information belonging to another person as an indication that the accused intended to use it to commit other crimes. Because of this, the penalties judges are asked to impose at sentencing can be quite severe.

The severity of the sentence a convicted person might receive depends upon the number of items of identifying information the individual possessed, obtained or transferred. Charges and sentences can include:

  • A state jail felony if the number of items is less than five. The penalties are a fine up to $10,000 and 180 days to two years in a state jail.
  • A felony of the third degree if the number of items is five or more but less than 10. The penalties are a fine up to $10,000 and two to 10 years in state prison.
  • A felony of the second degree if the number of items between 10 and 49 with a fine up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of two to 20 years.
  • Possession of more than 49 items is a felony of the first degree that is punishable with a fine up to $10,000 and from five to 99 years in state prison.

Judges usually will order a convicted defendant to make restitution to the victim for the damages caused by the identity theft. This could include any income that was lost and the attorney’s fees incurred by the victim related to the theft.

Identity Scam Defense

Texas takes identity theft very serious and works hard to land criminal convictions. Those who are accused of committing this crime have a lot to worry about. It is easier to hire a criminal defense attorney who knows how to manage these cases than to represent yourself and risk making mistakes. Give Rand Mintzer a call today at 713-862-8880.