Identity Theft in PA (Maximums and Defenses)

Identity Theft in PA is a serious felony offense. It just sounds nasty on your criminal record. Who is going to hire someone with that type of charge on their record? A conviction for the crime is like a diamond, it lasts forever. You have to be extremely careful with who you pick to handle this case because picking wrong can ruin your life. When people ask “Who is the best Identity Theft defense attorney near me?” The people have spoken, it’s The McShane Firm



The Law

You can read the exact law here: Identity Theft 18 P.S. § 4120

What the government needs to prove:

Identity Theft is a very simple statute, but the devil is in the details. As we will see.

Remember at all times, if the government has charged you with any crime including Identity Theft, you are innocent in the eyes of the law. Before you start the eternal you are Not Guilty. You remain that way unless the government can present a mountain of evidence proving your guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to convict you the government must prove the following:

  1. the accused
  2. possessed or used,
  3. through any means,
  4. identifying information of another person
  5. without the consent of that other person
  6. to further any unlawful purpose.

(b)  Separate offenses.–Each time a person possesses or uses identifying information in violation of subsection (a) constitutes a separate offense under this section. However, the total values involved in offenses under this section committed pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, whether from the same victim or several victims, may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.


Maximum Penalties

This is where your choice of defense attorney could save you years.

Due to cases both in the Supreme Court of the United States and also the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the enhanced maximum for cases involving amount of the loss is very likely unconstitutional. The amount of loss is not an element of the crime and as such is never put or proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the books, the amount of the loss controls the maximum penalty, but as mentioned above, the government likely cannot enhance the penalty.

So here is what the law says:

  • less than $2,000, the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree;
  • if the total value involved was $2,000 or more, the offense is a felony of the third degree;
  • regardless of the total value involved, if the offense is committed in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy as defined in section 903 (relating to criminal conspiracy), the offense is a felony of the third degree; or
  • regardless of the total value involved, if the offense is a third or subsequent offense under this section, the offense is a felony of the second degree.
  • When a person commits an offense under subsection (a) and the victim of the offense is 60 years of age or older, a care-dependent person as defined in section 2713 (relating to neglect of care-dependent person) or an individual under 18 years of age, the grading of the offense shall be one grade higher than specified in paragraph (1).

But because of the rulings we talked about above, the crime most likely will never be properly graded above a misdemeanor of the first degree. So, the maximum is properly not more than 5 years and $10,000.00

Beyond the instant concerns you likely have about jail, probation, fines and costs, you need to be aware of Misdemeanor Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania and Felony Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania