man committing identity theftThis is the fifth post in a series of articles discussing state jail felony charges in Austin, Texas. My last article discussed handling organized retail theft charges. It is important that you contact and reach out to a criminal defense attorney due to the fact that such charges carry severe consequences, including jail time. Retaining experienced counsel should be top priority after being charged with a state jail felony. This article continues the current series by discussing the handling of identity theft charges. Such charges may be elevated to a higher level offense, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.  If you or a family member have been arrested then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Texas residents can face up to two years in jail for state jail identity theft charges

Texas law defines the offense of “identity theft” as using someone else’s identifying information with the intent to defraud another or harm another. The identifying information is anything that identifies a person as someone else who is living, deceased, or a child younger than the age of eighteen. This includes date of birth, financial information, biometric information such as a fingerprint, etc. The intent to defraud is typically demonstrated by how the individual possesses and uses the information. It can also be presumed depending on the facts of the situation. Suppose, for example, a college student uses a fake ID to get into a bar. They may not face identity theft charges since they are not intending to defraud or harm another person. If, however, the ID was stolen and they also used the same victim’s stolen credit cards to make charges at the bar, then they may face criminal liability. It must be remembered, however, that the particular charges brought will always depend on the facts of the case.

An individual charged with identity theft can be punished with a jail sentence of 180 days up to two years, with a potential fine up to $10,000. To be charged with this level of offense, the number of the items obtained, possessed, transferred, or used in the identity theft must be less than five. For example, a person may face increased or additional identity theft charges if they are arrested with state-issued identification cards for seven different individuals. Also, the penalties associated with this type of offense can increase if there are aggravating factors such as the crime being committed against an elderly individual or a weapon being used during the commission of the offense. Depending on the facts of the case, your counsel may be able to defend the case to dismissal or they may be able to negotiate a more favorable outcome.

Retain an Austin attorney immediately if you are charged with identity theft

I always stress the importance of contacting an attorney as soon if you or a family member have been charged with a crime. The sooner that you retain qualified legal counsel then the sooner they may begin building a defense on your behalf. This may include visiting the scene of the offense, interviewing witnesses, reviewing discovery, filing any necessary pre-trial Motions, meeting with experts and more. Counsel will also be able to handle any Miranda-related challenges or challenge the lawfulness of any searches that occur at your residence. These are just a few examples of how hiring an attorney can help ensure that your legal rights remain protected. These types of cases are complicated and require in-depth knowledge of the law and court system in Texas.

My law firm practices solely in the area of criminal defense. We are dedicated to representing the accused and providing quality service. We understand that this is a difficult time in your life. My firm is ready to assist you. If you or someone you love has been arrested, contact my office today online or by telephone to speak with an Austin criminal defense lawyer. I am Board Certified in Criminal Defense by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and have been licensed to practice law since 1995. My office also serves the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.