Identity theft is a criminal offense that entails using someone else's identifying information to get access to their property or money. One frequent case is making purchases using someone else's credit card without their permission or knowledge. Identity theft is a serious offense that receives much attention in the media.
A felony conviction for identity theft could have severe ramifications on your rights and future work prospects. Get in touch with The Law Offices of Martin Hart immediately if you've been accused of or are being investigated for identity theft in Las Vegas.
What Does Identity Theft Mean?
Under Nevada law, it is illegal to assume another person's identity to cause them harm or to get anything of value using that person's identity. Identity theft is unlawful regardless of whether the offender is arrested or if the victim suffers no financial loss due to the act.
It is a crime under Nevada law (NRS 205.463) to knowingly acquire another person's personally identifiable information and then use that information to:
- Acquire credit, products, services, or other valuables
- Hurt the identity theft victim
- Pretend to be that person or act in their place to gain access to their identifiable data
- Acquire, without the victim's knowledge or permission, details about their private life, financial affairs, or other pursuits
Nevada State law also considers internet and computer technologies, making it a criminal offense to assist or abet someone else in obtaining another person's personally identifiable information.
"Personal identifiable information" refers to another deceased or living person's:
- Present or previous name
- ID card number
- License plate number
- Checking account number
- SSN or Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Savings account number
- Mother's name
- Credit card number
- Work location
- Debit card number
- Biometric information, such as voiceprints, fingerprints, retina images, facial scan IDs, and iris images
- Bank or other financial institution account number
- Password or PINs
- Digitally signed documents, electronic addresses and routing codes, telecommunications identifiers, and access devices
- Passport number
- Food stamp account details
- Health insurance ID number
- Alien registration numbers
- Employer ID number
- Taxpayer ID number
- Medical ID number
- Medicaid account numbers
- License, certification, membership, or other identifying number required by any applicable occupational, professional, governmental, or recreational organization
- Utility account number
- A code, number, or another unique identifier from a private clinical trial or research that gives the subject access to medical care or prescription medication
Federal Identity Theft Statutes
According to federal law, a "mode of identification" is any number or name that could be utilized to recognize a specific person, either on its own or in combination with other bits of information. This definition includes numbers, names, and electronic, biometric, and telecommunications information.
A federal offense carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The U.S. government has sentencing recommendations depending on the following:
- Total number of identity theft victims
- The number of identity documents involved
- The degree of inconvenience or harm caused
- The magnitude of the victims' losses
Identity theft could be tried in state and federal courts, with several additional charges based on the facts asserted by the government.
Generally speaking, federal courts have jurisdiction over any criminal case involving federal property or over state lines. If a network's servers are located outside Nevada or the United States, as is typical, then the crime of identity theft using a computer could be considered to cross over state lines.
State and local law enforcement may involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other federal agencies soon in a probe since identity theft can help prosecute other offenses like espionage, terrorism, and illegal immigration, among others.
Prosecutors can seek indictments on several white-collar crime offenses, like racketeering and conspiracy, where several people are suspected of being engaged in identity theft. If prosecutors successfully get convictions on federal and state identity theft counts alone, sentences may run concurrently, meaning the offender may spend a maximum of 40 years behind bars.
Nevada Identity Theft Laws
Identity theft is defined similarly under Nevada Revised Statutes 205.463, except it does not include the commission of federal offenses. Under Nevada State laws, people can be prosecuted for identity theft if they fraudulently use someone else's personal information to obtain credit, goods, or services.
This legislation also covers the use of the Internet and computer technologies. The crime of identity theft carries harsher penalties in Nevada because of its classification as a felony. Some examples of possible punishments include jail time of one year to twenty years and fines amounting to one hundred thousand dollars.
What Actions are Considered Identity Theft in Nevada?
The following are considered identity theft acts in Nevada:
Using False Identification (Nevada Revised Statutes 205.460 & Nevada Revised Statutes 205.465)
State legislation forbids possessing or distributing any personal identification to represent oneself as someone they are not.
The following are five typical instances of false ID offenses in Las Vegas:
- A minor using a forged driver's license. Additionally, it shows that the minor is legally allowed to purchase marijuana or alcohol
- A civilian obtaining veteran's benefits using a false military Identification
- False naturalization papers held by an illegal immigrant. And utilizes it to obtain a position for which only lawful immigrants are qualified
- An underage person joining an organization like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) by presenting a false identification card
- Selling or distributing false identification cards to others
If you are found in possession of the personal details of at least 5 separate people, the courts will assume that you intended to commit identity theft. If the case proceeds to trial, you do have the chance to "refute" this claim.
Misusing Someone Else's Identifying Information (Nevada Revised Statutes 205.463)
State law prohibits using another person's identification information to:
- Hurt the other individual
- Acquire more personal details about another person without their consent
- snoop on another person's private information, including communications or purchases, without their permission; or
- Use someone else's identity to perpetrate a criminal offense, such as opening a bank account or buying something on credit
Using another person's identification as part of a scheme to evade or postpone prosecution is a breach of Nevada Revised Statutes 205.463. It should be noted that "identifiable information" refers to any type of personal details that is specific to a victim's identification.
False Impersonation (NRS 205.450)
This occurs when an individual pretends to be someone else while either:
- Carrying out a real estate transaction
- Acting as a surety or bail in any judicial proceedings
- Getting married
- Confessing to a civil or criminal judgment
- Engaging in any other activity during a legal dispute or court process that jeopardizes another person's financial interests
For NRS 205.450 to apply, the impersonation should be of a real person, not a fictitious character.
Penalties for Identity Theft
Identity theft is punishable under Nevada law in several ways depending on the nature of the crime, the number of victims involved, and the value of damages caused.
Allegations of identity theft are often classified under Category B felonies. According to Nevada law, a Category B felony can result in one to twenty years behind bars and a hefty fine of up to $100,000. Your conviction will also feature a restitution order since identity theft falls under theft felony.
Enhanced Consequences for Some Identity Theft Offenses
If any of the following apply to your case, you risk facing a minimum term of 3 years behind bars:
- A victim who is an elderly person or falls under the vulnerable category
- Five or more victims in a single case
- The victim suffers a loss of over $3,000
- The offender assumes the identity of another individual to evade legal consequences
Since identity theft could have long-lasting effects on the victim, Nevada law stipulates that those found guilty of the crime should reimburse the victim for the expenses of restoring their credit.
Fighting Charges of Identity Theft
An identity theft conviction's effects can drastically affect a person's life. However, there are cases of individuals being wrongfully arrested and convicted. In any case, your attorney can put out a few arguments to help dispute the allegations.
The most popular legal argument for identity theft claims is that the accused didn't act consciously or with the intent to infringe the law. You'll not be convicted if your ID is stolen and used by a third party to commit a crime.
Another common legal argument for allegations of ID theft is that law enforcement officers conducted an illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement should do so following the Fourth Amendment when collecting evidence related to a crime, like bank accounts and credit reports.
If they stumbled, the accused could request that the court dismiss the illegally seized evidence. If the court dismisses the illegally obtained evidence, the prosecutor would be left with insufficient evidence to proceed with the case. The prosecution team could then propose a plea bargain or drop the charges.
Other legal defenses against identity theft include:
- False or mistaken identity
- No intent or possession
- False testimony by a witness
- Fabricated or faulty evidence
- Prosecutorial and police misconduct
- Biasness and prejudice, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and so on
Reasons for Identity-Related Criminal Offenses
Although possessing a fake ID and identity theft are somewhat common offenses across the United States, a Las Vegas identity theft lawyer is aware that these offenses are more common in Nevada and Las Vegas. People sell, make, or own fake identification documents to consume alcohol, gamble in casinos, or get credit.
In particular, a person could be taken to court for an identity-related offense if they:
- Use a fictitious identity while gambling at a casino
- Using a false identity to amass a substantial amount of debt
- Engage in a fraudulent activity involving credit cards
- Purchase alcoholic beverages or indulge in underage drinking
- Enter a casino or nightclub that has age restrictions
- Take part in underage gambling
- Earn money by supplying individuals with fake identification documents
- Gain access to another individual's personal information
- Intend to cause harm to the identity theft victim
- Try to evade punishment for a criminal offense
Whatever the circumstances surrounding your identity-related felony charge, an experienced Las Vegas identity theft attorney can help you better grasp the laws, your rights, and the ideal way forward.
Offenses related to identity theft include:
Credit Card Fraud
Provisions of NRS 205.760 define the offense as using another person's credit card details or other personal information for financial gain. Using another person's credit card without their consent is one such example. Another example is falsifying information on a credit card application.
Fraud involving credit cards is usually charged as a Category D felony. The penalties include:
- Serving 1 to 4 years behind bars
- Hefty fines of up to five thousand dollars based on the judge's discretion
- Restitution if appropriate
Usually, counterfeiting government seals falls under category D felony. The same goes for the unauthorized use of authentic seals. The penalties include:
- 1 to 4 years behind bars
- A fine of up to five thousand dollars determined by the court
This involves the act of deceiving others by using falsified documents. The crime falls under category D. The penalties include:
- Serving 1 to 4 years behind bars
- The court can impose fines of up to $5,000 and payment of restitution to victims where ynecessary
Find a Las Vegas Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you're facing charges for a serious crime, like identity theft, you'll want to engage a law firm that has achieved consistent success. You need to rely on someone who knows what they're doing. When defending clients' rights in identity theft cases, our defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Hart have years of experience and a track record of success.
Our Las Vegas law firm can defend your rights and help you build a solid defense if you've been accused of identity theft. In addition to providing a vigorous defense, we use a collaborative strategy to thoroughly analyze your case and help you get the most favorable result. Call us today at 702-380-4278.