When someone steals another person’s identity for the purpose of committing fraud, they may be charged and convicted of identity theft. Under Virginia Code, Section 18.2-186.3, identity theft is a crime and could result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the crime.
Generally, an identity theft crime will be classified as a misdemeanor or felony based on how much money the accused has stolen from the alleged victim. Here, first offenses and crimes involving a theft of less than $200 can result in Class 1 misdemeanor charges. Multiple offenses or crimes involving a theft of over $200 may be classified as felonies.
Identity theft can occur in a variety of ways. Generally, a person will first unlawfully obtain a person’s personal information, such as credit history, social security numbers and PIN numbers. They may do this by obtaining the person’s mail, taking their wallet or listening as they give their credit card number over the phone. Once the information is obtained, the person may use the information to fraudulently withdraw money from a bank account, apply for loans and credit cards or use other online accounts. By the time the victim notices the unusual charges on their credit card statement, the perpetrator may have already stolen thousands of dollars and ruined the victim’s credit.
Identity theft is a serious crime, but it is important to remember that many criminal arrests do not lead to convictions. If charged with identity theft, a criminal defense attorney can defend against the charges to help avoid serious penalties.