Although the trailer for the new movie Identity Thief, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy looks absolutely hilarious, real identity theft is no laughing matter. It is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.
The Tennessee identity theft statute provides that a person commits the offense of identity theft who knowingly obtains, possesses, buys, or uses, the personal identifying information of another:
(1) with the intent to commit any unlawful act including, but not limited to, obtaining or attempting to obtain credit, goods, services or medical information in the name of such other person; and
(2) (A) without the consent of such other person; or
(B) without the lawful authority to obtain, possess, buy or use that identifying information.
According to the law, personal identifying information includes many types of information. It includes, amongst other items, social security numbers, driver license numbers, dates of birth, passport numbers, employer or tax identification numbers, fingerprints, addresses, PINS and passwords, or telecommunication identifying information. The Tennessee statute also makes Identity Theft Tracking a crime, which is basically knowingly transferring the personal identification of another to someone else when you know, or should have known, that the other person will commit an unlawful act with the stolen information.
If you have committed identity theft in Tennessee, you may be facing some serious punishment. Identity theft is a Class D felony with punishments ranging from 2-12 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Identity theft trafficking is a Class C felony with punishments ranging from 3-15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The statute also provides for seizure and forfeiture of the property and money you obtained by identify theft.
If you have been charged with identity theft, it is imperative that you contact a criminal attorney with experience in defending theft charges. As noted above, the punishments you are facing are very serious. Moreover, these types of cases are extremely complex and entail enormous amounts of documents that need to be analyzed. An experienced criminal attorney will be able to tell you if you have a valid defense to the charges. For example, a valid defense can be established when the transfer of the information was permitted by the Tennessee Financial Records Privacy Act or the Fair Credit Reporting Act, exceptions specifically enumerated in the statute.
Identity theft is no joke. If you have been accused of the crime, consult with an experienced lawyer today.