Identity Theft

California Penal Code 530.5 P.C.

Identity theft typically involves the use of another’s identity or personal information without permission to commit fraud or some other financial-related crime.

What is an Identity Theft Charge?

Under California Penal Code 530.5 P.C., you can be prosecuted for intentionally obtaining the personal identification information of another person for an illegal purpose.

Identity Theft is typically charged in conjunction with other crimes, such as credit card fraud, Forgery, Grand Theft, Petty Theft, or other types of fraud or theft crimes.

Identity Theft is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that you can be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and your criminal record. However, the District Attorney’s Office will almost certainly charge you with a felony if you were previously convicted of Identity Theft, if you sold someone the victim’s identity information knowing that the buyer would use it to defraud the victim, or you were in possession of at least ten different identities of victims.

You can be charged with Identity Theft if you allegedly illegally obtained any of the following personal identifying information, or which you legally obtained for an illegal purpose: the alleged victim’s name, Social Security number, date of birth information, driver’s license number, address, telephone number, credit card information, health insurance information, place of birth and employment, etc.

You can also be charged with Identity Theft if you allegedly accessed someone’s social media accounts and misappropriated any of those accounts by assuming that person’s identity. Or you can be charged if you allegedly altered the information in those accounts, including that person’s profile. Or you can be prosecuted for allegedly providing another person’s information to a police officer. Further, you can be charged if you allegedly opened up a credit card account or department store account in another’s name.

Finally, you can be charged if you allegedly sold or transferred another person’s name and/or identification information to a third party without authorization. Finally, you can also be prosecuted if you allegedly opened someone else’s mail or received someone else’s mail.

What are Examples of Identity Theft?

Examples of Identity Theft include the following:

  • While working at a business, you signed your boss’s signature on a bonus check made out to yourself.
  • After being admitted to a hospital emergency room for a serious injury, you provided your cousin’s health insurance information to avoid paying out of pocket for the medical services.
  • After being pulled over by the police for a traffic violation, you provided the officer your brother’s driver’s license information because you knew he had no outstanding warrants and that you did have at least one.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for an Identity Theft Charge?

To prove that you are guilty of Identity Theft under California Penal Code 530.5 P.C., the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 2040):

  • You willfully obtained another person’s personal identifying information;
  • You willfully used that information for an unlawful purpose; and
  • You used that information without the consent of the person whose identifying information you were using.

What Happens If I am Convicted of an Identity Theft Charge?

If you are convicted of Identity Theft under California Penal Code 530.5 P.C., you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • Sixteen months, two years, or three years in prison (if you are convicted of a felony); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of a misdemeanor); and
  • A maximum fine of $10,000 (felony) or $1,000 (misdemeanor);
  • Probation of three or five years (felony or misdemeanor);
  • Victim restitution (if applicable);
  • Possible community service (felony or misdemeanor); and
  • Possible loss of ability to obtain or maintain a professional license, loss of employment or educational opportunities, or adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to an Identity Theft Charge?

Burglary cases can often be resolved during the investigation stage even before criminal charges are actually filed. Specifically, a highly experienced and skilled Los Angeles County Burglary attorney like Ninaz Saffari might be able to convince the investigating detective to not refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, or to convince the D.A.’s Office not to file charges if the case has already been referred. These are called Pre-Files, which Ms. Saffari has a great deal of experience in successfully negotiating. See her Case Results.

If you are charged with Burglary, Ms. Saffari will first conduct a thorough investigation, often with the help of her private investigator, to ascertain all relevant facts. Again, if possible, she will attempt to get the charges dismissed either before or shortly after they are filed. If she takes the case to trial, she will often use an expert witness who will argue that the alleged harm never occurred, did not occur to the degree claimed, occurred but was the result of an accident or unintentional conduct, or that the District Attorney has otherwise failed to provide enough evidence to meet the high threshold to prove Burglary.

The following are the possible defenses to an Identity Theft charge:

  • Consent. The alleged victim lawfully consented to you taking or using his or her identifying information.
  • Accidental or mistaken use. accidental or mistaken use of the identifying information.
  • Lawful purpose. You did not use the person’s identifying information for an unlawful purpose.
  • Lack of intent. At the time of the incident, you did not have the intent to commit the alleged act.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who committed the alleged identity theft. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).
  • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more charges.
  • The accuser and/or witnesses are not credible. In other words, for any host of reasons, the jury simple does not believe what the accuser and/or witnesses are claiming about your criminal culpability.

What Kind of Identity Theft Has Ninaz Saffari Defended?

Since 2005, Ninaz Saffari has successfully represented many clients against Identity Theft charges, and has defended both adults and juveniles.


If you or a loved one are currently being investigated or prosecuted for this crime, it is critical that you immediately hire a highly skilled, aggressive and experienced Los Angeles County Identity Theft criminal defense attorney like Ninaz Saffari. Contact the Saffari Law Firm, P.C. now for a free telephone consultation. If Ms. Saffari believes she can help you, she will immediately schedule a free in-person meeting or, if you are in custody, she will visit you in jail (again, for free and with no obligation to hire her).


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