In Florida, incidents and allegations of identity theft are rampant. Often, these stem from Internet-related activity, but identity theft can happen in many other ways.
Older people can be particularly vulnerable targets because they tend to be less familiar with technology. However, younger people who have a lot of personal information online are also at risk.
Under Florida law, the penalties for an identity theft conviction might differ based on the victim’s age. Anyone who is confronted with this type of criminal charge should know what the penalties might be and tailor their defense accordingly.
Understanding identity theft and the victim’s age
Identity theft means using a person’s information – such as their name, address, email, telephone number, Social Security Number, date of birth, passport information, bank information, medical records and more – in their stead without permission.
Identity fraud committed for financial gain is treated as a felony. The level of felony will hinge on the circumstances of the crime.
Any identity theft starts as a third-degree felony. If the victim’s financial loss is at least $5,000, then it is a second-degree felony. This is also the case if there are at least 10 victims, but fewer than 20. A conviction will result in a minimum of three years in prison.
It is a first-degree felony if it is at least $50,000 with at least 20 people and fewer than 30 people victimized. The penalty is at least five years in prison. If it is 30 or more people, the penalty will be at least 10 years in prison.
If the victims are younger than 18 or 60 and older, it is a felony of the second degree. The defendant can receive up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A person who is labeled a habitual offender can get up to 30 years.
A criminal defense should directly address the charges
Any criminal allegation will cause a litany of problems for the person charged. Some are worse than others. These go beyond the possibility of jail time and fines and can extend to disfavor in the community, problems securing employment and other negative implications.
Regardless of the situation, it is imperative to know what options are available. Crafting a criminal defense is key and it is useful to be proactive and aggressive in lodging that defense. In some cases, defendants may have an effective strategy for beating the charges. In others, defendants may be able to negotiate a way to reduce the charges and secure a plea agreement.
This is particularly important when the charges are enhanced because of the victim’s age. From the beginning, it is vital to know what can be done to handle identity theft, Internet crimes and similar cases. This should be the focus immediately after the arrest.