Identity theft is a serious crime that can have significant penalties. A conviction could lead to high fines, time in prison and other punishments that have a lasting impact on your life.
Identity theft happens when you use someone else’s identity without their permission. Aggravated offenses may include using another person’s identity while committing felony crimes, such as domestic terrorism or immigration violations.
Identity theft as a federal offense
Identity theft is often penalized at the federal level. When it is, there is a potential mandatory minimum penalty that could be applied to some cases. The mandatory minimum sentence is two years in federal prison if section 1028A applies to the case. That mandatory minimum sentence for identity theft may be added on top of other sentencing, such as additional time in prison for other crimes.
Identity theft in Massachusetts
Identity theft in Massachusetts is also heavily penalized, even when it’s not charged at the federal level. Someone who is convicted of identity fraud faces a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 2.5 years. In some cases, both penalties may apply.
Is it possible to accidentally steal someone’s identity?
Yes, it’s possible. For example, a young adult who borrows a parent’s credit card could be accused of identity theft if the parent forgets it was lent to them or changes their mind about doing so. A person could be accused of theft if they log into a shared computer to do some shopping and don’t clear another person’s credit card information out before ordering a product.
Although it’s less common to see accidental identity theft, those and other kinds of issues can happen. If you’re accused of identity theft, it’s important to talk to an attorney to find out where this accusation is coming from and what information the other party has against you. Once you know that, it may be possible to clear up a misunderstanding or to take steps to minimize the impact of the claims against you. Your attorney will work closely with you to defend your rights, because a conviction can damage your life for years to come.