Explanation of Identity Theft Laws in Texas
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Identity theft occurs in Texas when an individual uses another personís personal information to acquire goods, services or other things of value. Identity theft can result in significant consequences to the victim and years of affected credit. The instances of identity theft have increased throughout Texas and the nation over the last several years.
Using Personal Information
Identity theft involves the wrongful use of personal information. Identity thieves may use a personís Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, account password or other personal information. Other personal identifiers include insurance cards, fingerprints, government-issued identification, driverís license numbers, addresses, the victimís date of birth and other forms of identification. Personal identifiers include any data that can identify a particular person on its own or combined with other data points.
Fraudulently using or possessing such personal identifiers is considered a crime in Texas. Obtaining, transferring, possessing or using such personal identifiers without the victimís consent. This crime may be considered a felony of the first, second or third degree depending on the circumstances. Some forms of identify theft are considered misdemeanor acts in Texas.
How Identities Are Stolen
Identity thieves may acquire this information by phone scams and asking the identity theft victim to verify certain information. They may acquire information through online scams in which the victim is required to click on a link to confirm information. Some identity thieves may come into contact with personal information through their employment, such as a bank representative or a waiter who copies your credit card information. Others may acquire this information by going through trash that contains confidential data.
Unauthorized Acquisition of Certain Financial Information
Texas considers the unauthorized acquisition or transfer of certain financial information to be a crime. This crime involves obtaining financial or card information through recording it, electronically transferring it or taking a photograph of it. Additionally, this crime exists when someone provides or transfers information to others. This crime is considered a Class B misdemeanor.
Financial Sight Order Information
Financial sight order information refers to the data that is stored on a physical card such as a credit card or debit cardís magnetic strip or chip. It can also include the information on a check. This information can be used criminally to obtain access to account numbers, bank routing numbers and the issuance dates for cards. This crime is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
Penalties for Identity Theft in Texas
Individuals who are facing identity theft charges in Texas may be confronting serious criminal penalties if convicted. While the specific penalty is different in each case, the following penalties are typical in these cases:
Being convicted of identity theft can result in incarceration up to 12 months in jail for cases//// involving the use of financial information. If a person is convicted of fraudulently possessing or using personal identifiers, potential incarceration includes up to life in prison.
A misdemeanor conviction of identity theft for the transfer of certain financial information can result in a fine up to $4,000. Felony convictions can result in a fine up to $10,000.
Identify theft defendants may be ordered to pay restitution to victims if they are convicted. Restitution compensates victims for the financial losses they incurred as a result of identity theft. The amount of restitution that must be paid depends on the amount of theft.
Texas judges have the discretion to order a criminal defendant to probation rather than jail. This term must be at least one year. During probation, the criminal defendant must adhere to certain rules, such as being required to report to a probation officer, maintaining employment, paying payments, paying court costs, avoiding criminal activity and remaining within the jurisdiction.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Texas
If you are facing charges for identity theft in Texas, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for help. Being convicted of identity theft can result in significant penalties that you will want to avoid. It is important to have an experienced legal advocate on your side to protect your legal rights and advise you of your rights at each stage of the process.
He or she can explain the nature of the charges against you and the elements that a prosecutor will have to prove in order to secure a conviction. A criminal defense lawyer may discuss any possible plea bargains that may reduce the charges or sentence you face and lobby to obtain such agreements by working with the prosecutor for a favorable resolution.
Read more on this legal issueDifferences between Texas Criminal Offenses in Shoplifting and Robbery
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.