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What Constitutes Identity Theft?

Using someone else's personal information for some sort of benefit could be considered identity theft. Whether a person uses the driver's license, social security number or even medical records of another, the alleged offender could face criminal charges.

In Alabama, a person commits identity theft according to Alabama Code Section § 13A-8-192 if he or she:

  • Obtains, records or accesses identifying information that would assist in accessing financial resources, obtaining identification documents or obtaining benefits of the victim
  • Obtains goods or services through the use of identifying information of the victim
  • Obtains identification documents in the victim's name

All of these things must be done without the authorization, consent or permission of the victim and with the intent to defraud for his or her own benefit or the benefit of a third person.  For example, if a person takes the credit card information of another without the owner's consent with the goal of taking money, it could be considered identity theft.

This does not apply when a person obtains the identity of another person to misrepresent his or her age for the sole purpose of obtaining alcoholic beverages, tobacco or another privilege denied to minors. For example, using another person's driver's license to gain access to a bar would not constitute identity theft.

According to Alabama Code Section § 13A-8-191, identifying information could include:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Driver's license number
  • Financial services accounts, such as checking or savings accounts
  • Credit or debit card numbers
  • Personal identification numbers
  • Fingerprints
  • Passwords
  • Parent's legal surname prior to marriage
  • Any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person's financial resources, obtain identification, act as identification or obtain goods or services

Alabama law includes a variety of related criminal charges, including obstructing justice using a false identity. This is committed if a person uses identification documents or identifying information of another person or a fictitious person to avoid summons, arrest, prosecution or to impede a criminal investigation.

Identity theft and obstructing justice using a false identity are Class C felony offenses in Alabama. This could mean no less than one year and one day in a state prison or up to 10 years in a state prison.  Additionally, a person could be forced to pay up to $15,000 in fines.

Another related charge is trafficking in stolen identities. A person commits this when, without the authorization, consent or permission of the victim, he or she manufactures, sells, transfers, purchases, or possesses identification documents or information for the purpose of selling or transferring the information. This is a Class B felony, which could include no less than two years in a state prison and up to 20 years in a state prison. It also could include up to $30,000 in fines.

However, if a person is convicted of identity theft or the related crimes, he or she could be forced to pay restitution for financial loss to the victims of the offense. Financial loss may include any costs incurred by the victim in correcting his or her credit history or credit rating.

Additionally, financial loss could include any costs incurred in connection with any civil or administrative proceeding to satisfy any debt, lien or other obligations resulting from the theft of the victim's identification documents or identifying information.  This could mean paying attorney's fees and even lost wages.

The court may order restitution for financial loss to any other person or entity that suffers a loss from the violation. Offenders also could be assessed $25 per day and medical expenses for time spent in county or municipal jails or in a state prison facility, according to Alabama Code Section § 13A-8-195.

If you are facing charges of identity theft, it is important to know the severity of the white collar offense. Contact a white collar crime defense attorney at The Law Offices of Segal & Segal for a free consultation. We can help you fight the criminal charges and a lifetime of being a convicted felon.