According to Steve Bernas, President and CEO of Chicago’s Better Business Bureau, identity theft is the fastest growing white collar crime. Recently, there’s been a huge spike in identity theft instances due to Covid-19. People are stealing personal information in an attempt to falsely file for unemployment. Identity theft is a serious crime that could result in jail time, substantial fines, and felony charges on your permanent record. Ironically, scamming the unemployment system could make it very difficult for a person to find employment later on. If you or someone you know is being charged with identity theft, contact a criminal justice attorney right away.
Identity theft definitions
Identity theft goes beyond just stealing personal information. In fact, simply using someone else’s name to obtain goods or money could result in a criminal charge. The following acts count as identity theft in the state of Illinois:
- Using a personal identification document (like a state ID, driver’s license, or passport) to purchase property
- Using someone else’s ID and/or debit card to withdraw money from an account
- Using falsified identification information while committing a felony
- Using a fake ID or fake driver’s license in order to operate a vehicle
- Creating a fake identity for someone else to use in a crime
- Pretending to be someone else in order to gain access to their property
This is just a small sampling of what counts as identity fraud in Illinois. In some instances, a person could be charged with aggravated identity theft. This happens if the victim is over the age of 60 or if the crime is committed as part of gang activity. It’s especially helpful to have a lawyer on your side if you’re looking at an aggravated charge. Criminal lawyers craft defense strategies based on case specifics with your best interests at heart.
Depending on the cost of goods stolen and from whom the goods were stolen, charges can range from Class 4 Felonies to Class X Felonies. The first time a person steals another’s identity and the value of the stolen property is below $300, they can expect a Class 4 Felony charge. This means up to one year in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.
Beyond that, aggravated identity theft and second offenses are considered a Class 3 Felonies. If the victim is a member of the Armed Services or Reserve Forces of the United States or of the Illinois National Guard serving in a foreign country, offenders are looking at Class 2 Felony charges. The higher the value of goods, services, or property stolen, the more severe the sentencing. According to 720 ILCS 5/16-30, “identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding $100,000 in value is a Class X Felony.”
Felony charges remain on your record for life and could impact future employment. Since identity fraud is considered a white collar crime, it could be especially detrimental to applying for jobs in the tech, government, and financial industries because it involves deception.
This is why it’s crucial to hire a lawyer to represent you. A defense attorney will determine the best course of action based on the unique circumstances surrounding the situation. For instance, a person’s intention will have a huge impact on sentencing. It’s up to the prosecutor to prove the defendant intended to do harm with another person’s identity.
If you or someone you know has been charged with identity theft or other white collar crimes, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates for a free consultation today.