What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a public crime that is classified under the California Penal Code as false personation and cheats. It is a type of impersonation, but it includes the use of information and communication technology or systems. Under this classification, every person who falsely impersonates another person or assumes a character, marries, pretends to marry, or sustains a marriage commits a type of identity theft. Any person who knowingly and without consent impersonates an actual person through an internet website or other electronic means to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud another is guilty of identity theft.
What is necessary to prove identity theft?
The District Attorney must present proof that:
- The identity belongs to an actual person.
- The person charged knew that the identity rightfully belonged to another
- The person charged assumed an identity belonging to another
- The person charged had fraudulent intent and sought to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud another
- The person charged used electronic means to commit the impersonation (they created an email account or a profile on a social network or internet website using the identity of another)
- The person who was harmed, intimidated, threatened or defrauded believed or reasonably believed that the impersonator was the actual person he was impersonating
How is identity theft penalized?
Identity theft is penalized by a fine not exceeding $1000 or by imprisonment in county jail not exceeding 1 year or both fine and imprisonment.
They will also be made to pay compensatory damages to persons he or she has harmed by impersonating another and be stopped by an injunction from further impersonating another.
What other acts are punished as identity theft?
Under 528.5 of the California Penal Code, the following acts are punished as identity theft:
- A person who, while impersonating another or assuming another character, becomes a surety for another
- A person signs, verifies, acknowledges or proves a written instrument which is recorded, delivered or used as true.
- A person does any act that if it had been done by the actual person impersonated, will render them liable to prosecution, pay a sum of money, incur charges, forfeiture or other penalty
How are other acts of impersonation or identity theft penalized?
Other acts of identity theft are punished with a fine not to exceed $10,000 or by imprisonment not to exceed one year or both the fine and the imprisonment.
What other criminal acts related to identity theft are defined and penalized under the California Penal Code?
Under 529a, the manufacture, production, sale of counterfeit, forged or false certificates of birth, certificates of baptisms is penalized as well as the display or use of a false or counterfeit certificate of birth. The use by a living person of the certificate of baptism or certificate of birth of a deceased person is also penalized. If these acts are done to conceal their true identities or to represent himself or herself as another person. It is punished with imprisonment not to exceed one year.