Cleveland Identity Theft Lawyers
Skillfully Guiding You Through the Complex Legal System
Generally, identity theft, also referred to as identity fraud, occurs when someone obtains, possesses, uses, or transfers the personal identifying information of another without permission to do so. Depending on the specifics, the offense can be charged as a state or federal crime. In either case, it's a felony that carries severe conviction penalties that can upend a person's life for years. If you're being investigated for or have been charged with the offense, our Cleveland identity theft lawyers have the knowledge, skills, and resources to aggressively fight the allegations made against you. We can work toward obtaining the best possible result on your behalf.
HMW Law is a nationally recognized firm composed of a team that has over 75 years of combined experience. Our Cleveland identity theft attorneys have a passion for winning and have successfully handled thousands of cases, obtaining dismissals and acquittals for past clients. When you choose us, we'll get to work on your case right away, learning everything we can about the situation from your perspective and building a compelling defense for your specific needs. We don't back down from a fight and will zealously advocate for you from the beginning of your case until its conclusion.
Learn more about our legal services and how we can help by calling our Cleveland identity theft lawyers at (216) 220-6776 or contacting us online. We offer a free initial consultation and will be available 24/7 to take your call.
Ohio's Identity Theft Law
The elements of identity fraud are enumerated in O.R.C. 2913.49 – Identity Fraud.
The statute provides that a person commits the offense when they unlawfully use, obtain, or possess the personal identifying information of another with the intent to:
- Impersonate the other individual;
- Use the information as their own; or
- Aid or abet in identity theft offense;
It's also an offense for someone to let another individual use their personal identifying information knowing that the individual intends to defraud another.
Under the law, personal identifying information includes, but is not limited to:
- Phone number
- Driver's license number
- Mother's maiden name
- Social security number
- Financial account numbers
Penalties for Identity Fraud
As mentioned earlier, identity theft is a felony. Under state law, the degree at which the offense is charged depends on several factors, including the amount of damage suffered and whether the alleged victim belongs to a protected class. "Amount of damage" refers to the value of credit, property, services, debt, or other obligations incurred by the illegal use of the personal identifying information.
The degree of charge and resulting penalties are as follows:
Fifth-degree felony (when the value of damage is less than $1,000):
- Up to 12 months in prison and/or
- Up to $2,500 in fines
Fourth-degree felony (when the value of damage is between $1,000 and $7,499):
- Up to 18 months in prison and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
Third-degree felony (when the value of damage is between $7,500 and $149,999):
- Up to 36 months in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Second-degree felony (when the value of damage is $150,000 or more):
- Minimum term of imprisonment between 2 and 8 years
- Up to $15,000 in fines
If the alleged victim was an elderly person, active duty military member, or spouse of an active duty military member, the offense is increased by one degree. For instance, if the value of damage is less than $1,000, the offense is charged as a fourth-degree felony. Also, if the alleged victim was an elderly person, the defendant may be ordered to pay full restitution in addition to a maximum fine of $50,000.
With a skilled Cleveland identity theft lawyer on your case, you can increase the chances of minimizing or avoiding the harsh penalties associated with the offense.
Federal Identity Theft Laws
The federal government also prohibits people from unlawfully obtaining and using someone else's personal information. A conviction under federal identity theft laws can result in a fine and/or a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Additionally, identity theft is typically charged along with other offenses, such as mail or wire fraud, which carry their own harsh conviction penalties.
The federal government also has an aggravated identity theft statute, which allows a judge to impose enhanced penalties when the offense was committed under certain circumstances. For instance, if the defendant committed identity theft in relation to a specific felony, such as embezzlement, they may be sentenced to an additional 2 years in prison. If the offense was committed as part of an act of terrorism, an extra 5 years may be attached to the term of imprisonment.
Reach Out to HMW Law Today
Our Cleveland identity theft attorneys are consistently available and responsive. When you have a question or concern about your case, we will deliver a prompt reply and help you understand the process for resolving your matter.
- Decades of Combined Experience
- A Team-Oriented Approach
- Available 24/7 for Our Clients
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