Identity theft is a crime that involves the use (or theft) of another's personally identifiable information, such as Social Security number and birth date, to open credit accounts and other nefarious acts. Under Arizona's identity theft laws a first offense is charged as a Class 4 felony. The state also allows victims to seek damages in civil court. Check out this chart or the summary below for an in-depth summary.
||Ariz. Rev. Stat. §13-2008
|Classification of Crime/Penalties
||Automatic class 4 felony
|Who May Prosecute
||Any prosecuting authority
|Exemptions to Identity Theft Laws
|Civil Lawsuit Allowed?
|Civil Remedies Available
Basics of Identity Theft
The most common forms of identity theft are used to make money. Identity thieves may steal credit card information, personal information to open credit accounts, or use your identity to persuade someone else to give them money. However, identity theft is not always about stealing money. Often times, identity theft is used to get a driver's license, passport, and academic or job credentials that the person does not have. Sometimes this is used to start a new life, or enter the country illegally.
Whatever the purpose for identity theft, it is always a crime. Most states, including Arizona, make identity theft a specific crime. Identity theft is still illegal in those other states without specific laws, it is just charged as a different crime, like fraud.
Punishment for Identity Theft
Arizona classifies identity theft as a Class 4 felony. This means that the standard punishment for identity theft in Arizona is two and a half years in prison. Depending on the severity of the theft, and the harm caused, judges often have the discretion to increase or decrease the penalty. Also, the prosecutor may be able to suggest a lower sentence if the defendant is especially cooperative, or pleads guilty to the crime.
For Victims of Identity Theft
In order to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your financial future. Some common tips are to use difficult passwords on your computer, use different passwords with different accounts, check bank statements regularly for unauthorized activity, and be wary about giving your personally identifiable information over the phone. If you are the victim of identity theft, you also have the option to sue the identity thief for any damage caused.
Arizona Identity Theft Laws: Additional Resources
Charged With Identity Theft? An Attorney Can Help
Identity theft involves the use of another person's identity to commit fraud, typically financial fraud. A skilled attorney will be able to apply the facts of your case to the law and craft the best possible defense strategy. Don't take any chances with your freedom; contact an experienced Arizona defense attorney today.