In the age of modern technology the issue of identity theft has become a serious concern for consumers in Georgia, and all across the United States. Identity theft is also a complex area of the law because there are many separate offenses under the umbrella of “identify theft.” Under Georgia law, all of the following are forms of identity theft:
- Using another person’s information without consent with the intent of committing fraud.
- Using the information of a minor in the individual’s custody.
- Using the information of an individual who is deceased.
- Creating a false or fictitious identity for the purposes of committing fraud or other crimes.
- Creating, counterfeiting, or falsifying another person’s information for the purposes of committing fraud or other crimes.
- Accepting information that is known to be false, fraudulent, or fictitious.
It is important to note that Georgia law does not consider a minor using a fake identification to purchase alcohol or tobacco products, or to get into a bar, under the umbrella of identity theft. These crimes are classified under separate statutes with their own penalties.
Because so much of today’s consumer business is managed over the internet and other electronic means, there are a number of situations that are considered identity theft by electronic means, such as credit card fraud, forging of financial transactions, using the internet to obtain identifying information, and falsely encoding a vehicle. Georgia law also considers it illegal to use electronic devices designed to scan credit or bank card information.
How Serious are Identity Theft Charges?
Georgia law considers identity theft charges to be a felony with strict penalties if a conviction is obtained. Penalties for a conviction may result in the following:
- First offense - Fines of up to $100,000, between one and ten years incarceration in prison, or both.
- Second or subsequent offense - Fines of up to $250,000, between three and 15-years incarceration in prison, or both
- Aggravated identity theft - A crime is considered aggravated when there are additional mitigating circumstances that exacerbate the crime, such as using someone else’s identity for the purpose of obtaining employment. The penalties for aggravated identify theft include fines of up to $250,000, and up to 15-years incarceration in prison.
- Forgery – Forgery is a separate set of charges divided into first and second-degree offenses. First-degree forgery is punishable by one to 10-years in prison. Second degree forgery is punishable by one to five years in prison
In addition to these penalties, the State of Georgia may seek additional penalties depending on the nature and extenuating circumstances relating to the incident that resulted in criminal charges.
How to Defend Against Identity Theft Charges
Anyone in Georgia who has been charged with identity theft should obtain legal representation immediately after being arrested. Because this is such a complex area of law, it is important to have the guidance of an experienced Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney who can examine all aspects of the arrest and pending charges. In many cases, a skilled criminal defense attorney can negotiate a more favorable outcome than incarceration and steep fines.
Even though Georgia law is complex concerning identity theft charges, it is not impossible to avoid the worst-case scenario. If you want to avoid years in prison and a criminal record, call the Abt Law Firm, LLC right now to set up a free consultation with our identity theft attorneys. We are pleased to offer consultations over the telephone, in person, or at the jail. Our staff is available 24/7, and is ready to help you. Call us today at 1 (800) NO JAIL 9 or 1 (800) 665-2459.