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Identity Theft 

A person is prohibited from "willfully and without authorization . . . fraudulently using, or possessing with the intent to fraudulently use, personal identification information concerning another person without that person's prior consent,” as per Florida Statutes § 817.568.

The following are some examples of personal information:

  • Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Birthdate
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Workplace information
  • Driver's license number

Examples of identity theft include:

  • Stealing or attempting to use ATM cards, checks, or debit cards
  • Hacking a person’s web accounts to gain financial access
  • Tax fraud
  • Medical and health insurance identity theft to gain coverage
  • Mortgage and home title fraud
  • Senior citizen theft or child identity theft

It is always prohibited to assume another person's identity, regardless of how personal information is obtained. Someone can physically steal someone else's information by taking a driver's license out of a purse, getting it from public records, eavesdropping, and cyber-hacking. Identity theft charges have greater penalties if someone in Florida obtains information using public records.

Florida Identity Theft Lawyer

If you have been arrested for identity theft in Florida, it's imperative that you reach out to Galigani Law Firm. Attorney Dean Galigani at Galigani Law Firm is passionate about helping his clients navigate the criminal justice system with promising results. Not only that, but attorney Galigani has been practicing criminal defense for years and has the knowledge needed to fight any type of white collar crime. 

Galigani Law Firm serves clients in Florida, including Alachua County, Marion County, Levy County, Columbia County and Gilchrist County. Call (352) 375-0812 now to arrange a free consultation today.

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Information Center

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Penalties For Identity Theft Conviction

Identity theft is a frequently charged felony in Florida. An identity theft charge is often accompanied by other charges, which could result in a much harsher sentence. An individual might be charged with additional theft, for instance, after using someone else's identity to make illegal purchases. Or, if someone fabricates false documents using another person's identity, they could be charged with forgery.

There is a mandatory minimum sentence for some identity theft offenses. A person convicted of the crime might have to pay restitution to the victim, serve time in jail, and pay heavy fines. The potential for such additional fees is not included in the punishment for identity theft listed below.

  • Third-degree felony offense: the maximum sentence is five years in prison, five years of probation, and an additional $5,000 in fines.
  • Second-degree felony offense: the maximum sentence is 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and an additional $10,000 in fines.
  • First-degree felony offense: the sentence is 30 years to life in prison and an additional $10,000 in fines.

For misdemeanor identity theft, the penalties are:

  • A first-degree misdemeanor conviction can result in a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • A second-degree misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum jail sentence of 60 days and a $500 fine.

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Use Of Personal Identification Information Of A Deceased Person

It is a third-degree felony to use or possess a deceased person's personal identification information for fraudulent purposes. If the identification is used to obtain something worth more than $5,000, it can be charged as a second-degree felony. A first-degree felony charge may be brought against a defendant if the value of the acquired property exceeds $50,000. Identification theft crimes are classified as first-degree felonies if the stolen identity was used to obtain property worth more than $100,000 or if more than 30 people's identities were stolen. If convicted, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence.

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Federal Identity Theft

According to the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, it is illegal to "knowingly transfer or use, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid in the commission of, any unlawful activity that violates any applicable federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law."

Per the Act, a name or SSN qualifies as a "means of identification." A credit card number, a mobile phone's electronic serial number, or any other information that can be used by itself or in combination with other data to identify a specific person are similarly protected.

Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, and the DEA, conduct investigations into Act violations. The U.S. Department of Justice prosecutes federal identity theft cases.

Most of the time, an identity theft conviction carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine, and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used in the commission of the crime.

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Aggravated Identity Theft

According to federal law, aggravated identity theft happens when a person commits a felony to obtain information or use it for a terrorist act. Felonies that can lead to an aggravated theft charge include:

  • Theft of government funds;
  • Theft or embezzlement committed by a bank officer or employee posing as a citizen of the United States;
  • False information provided when purchasing a firearm;
  • Bank, wire, and mail fraud;
  • Fraud involving visas and passports;
  • Collecting customer data under false pretenses;
  • Making a fake alien registration card and purposefully failing to leave the country after being deported; and
  • Erroneous claims about the Social Security Act.

A defendant found guilty of aggravated identity theft will be legally required to serve an additional two years in prison. The additional time is on top of the original felony crimes sentences. Unlike some sentences that can be served at the same time, sentences for Aggravated Identity Theft are served in a row.

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Harassment By Use Of Personal Identification Information

Harassment by use of personal identification occurs when a person willfully and unlawfully obtains, uses, or attempts to use another person's personal identification information without that person's knowledge or consent to harass that person. This crime is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor.

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Victim Cooperation

It's a common misconception that the State must dismiss an identity theft case if the alleged victim decides not to press charges after filing a complaint. This is not the case. The prosecutor, who represents the State, can continue its investigation even without the alleged victim's cooperation or participation. Only the prosecutor has the authority to decide to dismiss these charges.

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Possible Legal Defenses

These are just a few of the defenses that could lead to these charges being dropped or reduced:

  • Lack of evidence
  • Mistaken identity/Not the person responsible
  • No willful attempt to deceive or harm another person is made.
  • Information on a person's identity that did not belong to another person
  • Legal means were used to obtain personal identification data through business services.
  • Consent was provided

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Additional Resources

Online Sunshine | Florida State Legislature – Online Sunshine provides the most current versions of Florida statutes, including § 817.568 Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information.

Federal ID Theft Law | Florida’s Office of the Attorney General – The Florida Attorney General’s website provides specific information about federal identity theft and how the crime is prosecuted.

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Gainesville Identity Theft Lawyer | Alachua County, FL

It may feel like your life is over after being accused of an identity theft, but our dedicated legal team at Galigani Law Firm want you to know that there is a reason for hope. Attorney Dean Galigani and his legal team will challenge the prosecutor’s evidence and seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Contact the Galigani Law Firm at (352) 375-0812 for a free consultation. Florida. Attorney Galigani serves clients throughout Florida including Marion County, Levy County, Columbia County and Gilchrist County.

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