Identity Theft

Stealing another person’s identifiable information for a personal benefit is known as identity theft or ID theft. What’s considered identifiable can range, but in most identity theft cases the information stolen is either a social security number, or a credit/debit cards. The offender will then either impersonate the alleged victim for a benefit, use the information to falsify an official document or make security related decisions for the alleged victim without their effective consent.

Identity theft can completely derail the victim’s life or hurt their finances. As a result, the state of Texas has implemented harsh punishments for identity thieves including court fines, time behind bars and a criminal record. With so much at stake, it’s important you have legal representation on your side you can trust. If you or someone you know has been charged with identity theft, then we highly suggest you get in contact with white collar crime attorney at The Benken Law Firm.

Houston Identity Theft Attorney in Texas

It’s not just important, but vital that you take great care in your defense before your court date. Get started on building a strong defense by hiring attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm. He isn’t only passionate about what he does, but attorney Benken has the experience to back it up. With over 30 years of both prosecutorial and defense experience, Brian Benken may be the right choice for your case.

To set up your first consultation, contact The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051. We will schedule you and during your appointment you can speak with attorney Benken about your case in further detail. The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County and Houston area such as Westchase, Alief, The Heights, River Oaks and Meyerland.

Overview of Identity Theft in Texas

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Everything You Need to Know About Identity Theft Laws in Texas

Identity theft isn’t a singular crime, but an umbrella term for a multitude of offenses a person can commit related to stealing another’s identifying information. Essentially, a person can be charged for identity theft if they possess, obtain, transfer, or defraud another person’s identifying information or telecommunication access device to obtain something of value.

The Texas Penal Code defines “identifying information” as any information where the victim can be identified through official records. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Full name and date of birth;
  • Unique biometric data such as a voice print or finger print;
  • Unique electronic identifying number, routing code, address or financial institution account number;
  • Identifying information from a telecommunication or access device; and
  • Any government-issued identification number such as a social security number

A “telecommunication access device” is defined under Texas law as any card, code, plate, account number, personal identification number, mobile identification number, electronic serial number or other telecommunications services that could be used to:

  • Obtain goods, money, services or anything else of value; or
  • Initiate a transfer of funds with the exception of a transfer originated solely by a paper instrument

The specifics elements for identity theft can be found under the Texas Penal Code § 32.51(b). The statute states a person is guilty of identity theft if they intentionally defraud another, attempt to or does obtain, possess, transfer or use an item of:

  • Identifying information from the victim without their consent;
  • Identifying information concerning a person whose deceased, which does include a stillborn infant or fetus. The information must be used as if the deceased person was still alive and the information was obtained, possessed, transferred or used without legal authorization; or
  • Identifying information of a child younger than the age of 18 years

It’s important to remember that a person doesn’t have to commit fraud or harm the victim to be charged with identity theft. Simply possessing three or more items of identifying information without the owner’s consent is enough to face identity theft charges.

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What Are the Penalties for Identity Theft in Texas?

The severity of the crime’s penalties depends on the number of items obtained, possessed, transferred or used. Under the Texas Penal Code § 32.51(c), individuals found with less than five items of identifying information will be charged with a state jail felony. The penalties for a state jail felony include the following:

  • 180 days to 24 months in jail; and
  • Possible fine of up to $10,000.

Possessing, transferring or using more than 5 but less than 10 items, will result in a third-degree felony. The minimum and maximum penalties for a third-degree felony include:

  • Minimum of two years and a maximum of ten years in prison; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

Offenders found with more than 10 items but less than 50 should expect to face a second-degree felony. The penalties for a second-degree felony include:

  • Minimum of two years and a maximum of 20 years in prison; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

If the offender is arrested in possession of 50 or more identifying items, then the charge will be reclassified to a first-degree felony. The minimum and maximum sentencing requirements for a first-degree felony include:

  • Minimum of five years and a maximum of 99 years in prison; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

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Additional Resources

Identity Theft – Visit the official website for Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas. Find more information about identity theft, how to report ID theft crime, how to fill out an ID theft affidavit, and how to prevent further ID theft abuse.

Texas Identity Theft Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code. Find more information regarding identity theft, forgery, credit or debit abuse and other fraudulent offenses. Learn the offense specifics, penalties, and admissible defenses.

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Defense Lawyer for Identity Theft Charges in Houston, Texas

If you or someone you know has been charged with identity theft or any other fraud related crime, then we highly suggest you gain experienced legal representation. A great option is to get in touch with Brian Benken from The Benken Law Firm and set up your first consultation free.

Attorney Brian Benken has over 30 years of experience defending his client’s rights and future. His knowledge, resources and passion for the job has helped hundreds of people avoid the full statutory penalties. To find out more, call The Benken Law Firm at (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a case review.

The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County area, as well as all parts of Texas.

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