Have you been arrested for identity theft? The penalties if you are convicted can be severe, so it is in your best interest to take whatever action you can to protect yourself. Identity theft has become more widespread over the past two decades due in large part to the internet and the proliferation of electronic financial transactions. At the same time, many states, including Colorado, have imposed harsh sentences for those convicted of this crime.
At Castañeda Law, we are experienced identity theft lawyers who will fight hard to protect your rights. Call us for a consultation.
What is Identity Theft in Colorado?
In order to understand what acts are prohibited by the identity theft law, certain terms come into play. Unless you know how these terms are defined in the statute, you will not be able to understand the nature or the scope of the offense. Here are some of the more important definitions contained in CRS 18-5-901:
- Personal identifying information. Information that may be used, either by itself or with other information, to identify a specific person. It includes information such as a social security number, a password, driver’s license number, passport number, student, employer or government identification number, fingerprints, and even a birth date, among others.
- Financial identifying information. This includes a PIN number, credit card or debit card number, checking account or routing number, EFT number, and similar information.
- Financial device. Examples include credit cards, debit cards, EFT cards, checks, and money orders.
The crime of identity theft is defined in CRS 18-5-902. That section states that you commit identity theft if you
- Knowingly use the personal identifying information, the financial identifying information, or a financial device of another person without consent, in order to obtain money or anything else of value (including to make a financial payment);
- Knowingly possess any such information or device with intent to use it to obtain money or anything of value;
- Falsify, alter or utter a written document or a financial device containing another person’s personal identifying information or financial identifying information, with intent to defraud; or
- Knowingly possess or use such information, without consent, in connection with an application for a financial device, an extension of credit or to obtain a government-issued document.
Identity theft is a class 4 felony. The presumptive sentencing range is between 2 and 6 years in prison. However, if the defendant has a prior conviction for identity theft (or certain related offenses), the court may impose a sentence of twice the presumptive range.
Offenses Related to Identity Theft
There are a number of additional offenses related to identity theft. In some cases, these offenses do not require either use of the information, or intent to defraud. They include:
- Criminal possession of a financial device. Possession of a financial device knowing, or which the defendant reasonably should know, was stolen or mistakenly delivered, is a class 1 misdemeanor. If you possess four or more such devices (credit cards, etc.) issued to at least two different people, it is a class 5 felony.
- Criminal possession of an identification document. The proof required includes knowing possession without permission or lawful authority of another person’s social security card, government i.d., passport or driver’s license. It is a class 1 misdemeanor. If two or more identification documents are involved issued to two or more people, it is a class 6 felony.
- Gathering identity information by deception. Making a false statement with intent to obtain or to record the personal identifying information, or financial identifying information of another person, is a class 5 felony.
- Possession of identity theft tools. The possession of computers, scanners or other tools commonly used for identity theft, with intent to use the tool (or with knowledge that another person intends to use it) to commit identity theft, is a class 5 felony.
- Criminal Impersonation. This offense involves assuming another person’s identity for a specific purpose. Those purposes include marriage and confessing judgment, among other acts, or any other purpose by which the person intends to unlawfully gain a benefit or to defraud another. It is a class 6 felony.
Lawyers Defending Identity Theft Charges in Colorado
As the public has become more and more aware of the possibility of identity theft affecting their lives, pressure has increased on prosecutors to file more identity theft charges, and to take a tough stance when prosecuting those cases. As a result, it is more important than ever that you retain the services of an experienced and dedicated attorney to defend you.
If you have been charged with identity theft or a related crime, you are innocent until proven guilty. Many identity theft cases can be successfully defended: you yourself may be the victim of mistaken identity; you may not have used or possessed the information for an unlawful purpose; or you had no criminal intent.
Whatever the circumstances may be in your case, the attorneys at Castañeda Law can help. We are experienced criminal defense lawyers who are dedicated to serving the needs of our clients. If you are facing an identity theft charge, contact us to find out what our firm can do for you.
Call (303) 386-7135 for a consultation