Identity Theft Charges in Washington StateLeave a Comment
Identify theft is a serious crime in Washington, leading to severe financial and emotional consequences to its victims. Because identity theft can result in tangible harm, Washington imposes strict penalties on people convicted of these crimes. If you are facing identity theft charges in Washington criminal court, understanding the penalties and definitions of this crime can help you protect your rights and build your defense.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s personal information, such as his or her Social Security number, credit card details, or other financial documents, to commit a crime. Technology often enables people to commit identity theft by hacking into private accounts or large company databases, although this crime can occur in a number of different ways.
Types of Identity Theft
People who commit identity theft may have different motivations and use different means to obtain the desired information. There are multiple types of identity theft crimes.
- Financial identity theft: The most common type of identity theft crime, financial identity theft involves using a person’s personal or financial information to obtain funds. A victim may notice unusual charges on his or her credit cards or bank accounts.
- Tax identity theft: This type of identity theft involves using a victim’s Social Security number or Employer Identification Number to secure his or her tax refund. Victims may not realize this crime occurred until they try to file their taxes.
- Medical identity theft: This crime involves using a victim’s personal information to obtain medical services or access sensitive medical information. A person who commits this crime may access the victim’s health benefits, medical records, prescriptions, and more.
- Social Security theft: A person may pretend to be a government representative and call the victim, asking for his or her Social Security number. This number gives access to a number of financial and personal information, which the person committing the identity theft can use to gain money, personal details, and other valuable data.
- Child identity theft: This crime is becoming more prevalent in recent years. Child identity theft occurs when someone uses a minor’s Social Security number to open credit cards and other financial accounts in his or her name, which the minor does not usually see until he or she becomes an adult.
Consequences of an Identity Theft Conviction
Identity theft is a felony in the state of Washington, and a person can face a first or second-degree charge for this crime. A first-degree identity theft charge is the more serious of the two crimes, involving the loss of property worth more than $1,500. A second-degree identity theft charge involves the loss of property worth less than $1,500.
Depending on the charge, the state may impose the following consequences for an identity theft conviction.
- A first-degree identity theft charge is a Class B felony under Washington law. A person who receives a conviction for this crime can face up to 10 years in state prison, as well as a fine of up to $20,000.
- A second-degree identity theft charge is a Class C felony under Washington law. A person who receives a conviction for this crime can face up to 5 years in state prison, and he or she may also face a fine up to $10,000.
An identity theft conviction can impact a person’s freedom, finances, and relationships. If you are facing identity theft charges in Washington state, contact a fraud defense lawyer in Tacoma as soon as possible. Your lawyer will help you understand your legal options, as well as craft a strong defense to work towards the best possible outcome.