Arizona Identity Theft Laws
Identity theft is a crime that involves the use (or theft) of another's personally identifiable information, such as Social Security number and birth date, to open credit accounts and other nefarious acts. Under Arizona's identity theft laws a first offense is charged as a Class 4 felony. The state also allows victims to seek damages in civil court. Check out this chart or the summary below for an in-depth summary.
|Code Section||Ariz. Rev. Stat. §13-2008 (2001)|
|Classification of Crime/Penalties||Automatic class 4 felony|
|Who May Prosecute||Any prosecuting authority|
|Exemptions to Identity Theft Laws||-|
|Civil Lawsuit Allowed?||-|
|Civil Remedies Available||-|
Basics of Identity Theft
The most common forms of identity theft are used to make money. Identity thieves may steal credit card information, personal information to open credit accounts, or use your identity to persuade someone else to give them money. However, identity theft is not always about stealing money. Often times, identity theft is used to get a driver's license, passport, and academic or job credentials that the person does not have. Sometimes this is used to start a new life, or enter the country illegally.
Whatever the purpose for identity theft , it is always a crime. Most states, including Arizona, make identity theft a specific crime. Identity theft is still illegal in those other states without specific laws, it is just charged as a different crime, like fraud.
Punishment for Identity Theft
Arizona classifies identity theft as a Class 4 felony. This means that the standard punishment for identity theft in Arizona is two and a half years in prison. Depending on the severity of the theft, and the harm caused, judges often have the discretion to increase or decrease the penalty. Also, the prosecutor may be able to suggest a lower sentence if the defendant is especially cooperative, or pleads guilty to the crime.
For Victims of Identity Theft
In order to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your financial future. Some common tips are to use difficult passwords on your computer, use different passwords with different accounts, check bank statements regularly for unauthorized activity, and be wary about giving your personally identifiable information over the phone. If you are the victim of identity theft, you also have the option to sue the identity thief for any damage caused.
Identity theft laws are constantly changing, and you will want to make sure that your attorney is well versed and up to date on identity theft laws if you are accused of that crime. Although many people may want to use a public defender at trial, there are many private criminal defense attorneys in Arizona who may be able to help.