California Penal Code Section 530.5 PC: Identity Theft

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

identity theft

Identity theft is a criminal offense that is broadly defined as using another person's identifying information without consent for fraudulent purposes. Under California Penal Code Section 530.5 PC, identity theft is a serious crime that can carry lengthy prison sentences.

There are four different classes of identity theft that are addressed by California Penal Code Section 530.5 PC:

  1. California Penal Code Section 530.5(a) PC - Unauthorized use of another person's personal identifying information.
  2. California Penal Code Section 530.5(c) PC - Fraudulent possession of another person's personal identifying information.
  3. California Penal Code Section 530.5(d)(1) PC - Fraudulent sale, transfer or conveyance of another person's personal identifying information.
  4. California Penal Code Section 530.5(d)(2) PC - Knowingly selling, transferring or conveying another person's personal identifying information to facilitate its unauthorized use.

Personal identifying information can include a wide range of information, including names, addresses, social security numbers, mother's maiden names, account numbers, PIN numbers and passwords, among other things.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. False Impersonation - California Penal Code Section 529 PC
  2. Credit Card Fraud - California Penal Code Section 484e PC
  3. Forgery - California Penal Code Section 470 PC
  4. Grand Theft - California Penal Code Section 487 PC

3. Examples

The post office accidentally delivers a new credit card to the wrong address. The man at the address receives the card and notices that it is in his neighbor's name. The man activates the card and uses it to make several purchases. This man could be prosecuted for identity theft under California Penal Code Section 530.5 PC, as well as credit card fraud under California Penal Code Section 484g PC.

In another example, a woman gets a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend following a domestic violence incident. The woman relocates to a new address because she afraid of her ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend hires a private investigator to track down the new address because he intends to violate the restraining order. By doing this, the ex-boyfriend could be prosecuted for identity theft as he acquired personal information for an unlawful purpose. The definition of unlawful purpose is not limited to financial motives. Using personal information to facilitate a violation of a restraining order is considered an unlawful purpose under the law.

4. Defenses to Identity Theft

Identity theft requires that the personal information must have been used or acquired for an unlawful purpose. There may be situations where another person's identity is used without a fraudulent purpose. In these cases, the defendant would not be criminally liable under the identity theft statute.

Many large financial institutions will simply write off losses when one its customers claims to be a victim of identity theft. Because of this, someone may find themselves falsely accused of identity theft by another person (such as an ex-roommate, ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend) who is simply trying to avoid their own debts.

5. Penalties

Under California Penal Code Section 530.5 PC, identity theft is a "wobbler" which can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the criminal history of the defendant, the extent of the loss caused by the crime, and other relevant factors.

If charged as a misdemeanor and convicted, a defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, substantial court fines and victim restitution. If charged as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

It is important to note that each time a defendant uses another person's personal information, it is considered a separate and distinct violation of the identity theft statute. Thus a defendant can be charged with and penalized for multiple counts of identity theft even where there is only one named victim.

6. Criminal Defense for Identity Theft Cases

Identity theft is a serious white collar offense that prosecutors do not treat lightly. If you or someone you know are being investigated for identity theft, it is very important that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience whose previous service included an assignment in the elite Major Fraud section of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. As a result of his experience, Mr. Kraut is considered one of the best attorneys in Los Angeles for fighting identity theft charges.

For more information about identity theft, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Featured on CNN
ABC News
NBC News
Los Angeles Times
CBS News
The New York Times
Us Weekly
Entertainment Tonight
Good Morning America
Legal Broadcast Network
Avvo Rating 10.0
Client Reviews
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.