In the last decade, identity theft has quickly grown into one of the most charged financial crimes in the state of Maryland and across the country. The rise of technology has brought with it a growing ability for people to obtain the person information of others and use it for their own financial gain. As police and prosecutors have become more technologically-savvy, they have gotten better at tracking down these types of criminals.
Identity theft charges are taken seriously by the authorities and, if you are convicted of one, you can face serious consequences including many years in prison. It is imperative that if you are charged with such a crime, you get in contact with an experienced Maryland identity theft charge defense lawyer like those at Rice, Murtha & Psoras as soon as possible. We know how to fight to get your charges downgraded or dismissed altogether. Call us right away at (410) 694-7291 for a free consultation.
Different Ways of Committing Identity Theft in Maryland
The crime of identity theft, also referred to in the Maryland criminal code as identity fraud, can be committed in a variety of different ways. The section of the code regarding identity theft can generally be broken into five different subsections that each describe a different violation of identity fraud law. While each of these violations is distinct in certain ways, they all share the common denominator of obtaining or using someone else’s personal information without their consent.
Identity Theft Used to Obtain a Thing of Value
The most commonly understood type of identity fraud is obtaining someone else’s personal information and using it to obtain something for yourself. This can be done by acquiring someone else’s person information and using it to pose as them and receive benefits, such as in the case of a person who signs up for a credit card in another’s name and racks up expensive charges that the other person will have to pay for. This can also be done by selling people’s personal information to third parties for a profit.
Note than the term “thing of value” includes not only goods but also credit, services, or any type of personal benefit.
Identity Theft Using a Re-encoder or Skimming Device
Re-encoders and skimming devices are technological tools that are commonly used to commit identity fraud by stealing people’s credit card information. A re-encoder is used to transfer the information associated with the chip or stripe on one credit or debit card to another. Thereafter, you could use your own card, but it would be tied to someone else’s information.
A skimming device is a device placed into a credit card reader or ATM machine that can steal and store the information contained in a card’s chip or magnetic stripe. The information can then be sold or used for personal purposes. If you steal information using either of these devices, you can be charged with identity fraud, even if you never actually use the information you stole for personal gain.
Possession of a Re-encoder or Skimming Device with the Intent to Commit Identity Fraud
This is another component of the identity fraud code section that deals with re-encoders and skimming devices, which are described above. To be in violation of this section, you merely need to possess one of these devices with the intent to use it to commit fraud. Even if you have not actually committed the fraud, you can still be charged.
Identity Theft Through False Claim of Representing Another
This section of the code deals with scenarios where you claim to represent someone in order to get a third party to provide you with services, goods, or information due to that person. For example, you might show up to a bank claiming you are the legal guardian of an underage child and can therefore make bank withdrawals on their behalf. If this is not true, you could be charged with identity theft under this section.
Identity Theft to Avoid Apprehension, Prosecution, or Repayment of Debts
Under Maryland law, it is illegal for any person to knowingly and intentionally assume the identity of another person (whether that person is real or fictitious) to avoid being apprehended, identified, or prosecuted for a crime, or to avoid paying a debt or other legal obligation. In simple terms, you cannot forge or steal documents to pretend to be someone else in order to avoid your legal obligations such as criminal charges or debts.
Penalties for Identity Theft Crimes in Maryland
The penalties for identity fraud crimes vary greatly depending on which type of offense you commit. For identity theft to avoid apprehension, possession of a re-encoder or skimming device, identity theft through false claim of representing another, or using the personal information of another to obtain a thing or service valued at less than $500, you will be charged will a misdemeanor. For this misdemeanor charge, you can face penalties of up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
If you use the personal information of another to obtain a thing or service valued at $500 or more, or if circumstances reasonably indicate that your intent was to manufacture, distribute, or dispense another individual’s personal identifying information, you will be charged with a felony. This felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
If You Have Been Charged with an Identity Theft Crime, Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Here to Help
Prosecutors in Maryland have been bringing identity theft charges more and more in recent years. With penalties that can be extremely harsh, including high fines and long prison sentences, this is not a charge to be taken lightly. At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our knowledgeable Maryland identity theft crimes defense attorneys know how to handle your case from the first moment it hits our desk, all the way to trial if necessary. We will leave no stone unturned in your defense and fight to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. Call us today at (410) 694-7291 for a free, confidential consultation.