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New York Identity Theft Laws

Overview of New York Identity Theft Laws

In an era where an individual's personal identifying information is of increasing importance and value, the prevalence of identity theft is logical, yet frightening at the same time. A person commits the most basic form of identity theft as defined in the New York Penal Code when he or she "knowingly and with intent to defraud assumes the identity of another person by presenting himself or herself as that other person, or by acting as that other person or by using personal identifying information of that other person," and additionally (a) obtains goods, money, property or services or uses credit in the name of such other person or otherwise causes financial loss, or (b) commits a class A misdemeanor or higher level crime.

If the total amount of goods, money, property or services, credit used, or other financial loss caused thereby exceeds $500, the offense will be elevated to second-degree identity theft, a class E felony. A person is also guilty of the intermediate level of identity theft if he or she commits or attempts to commit a felony or acts as an accessory to the commission of a felony, or commits third-degree identity theft and has been previously convicted in the preceding five years of identity theft in any degree, unlawful possession of personal identification information in any degree, unlawful possession of a skimmer device in any degree, or grand larceny in any degree. First-degree identity theft, the most serious degree of the offense, occurs when the total amount spent, credit used, or financial loss caused by the theft exceeds $2,000; the defendant commits or attempts to commit or acts as an accessory to a class D or higher-level felony; or if the defendant committed second-degree identity theft and was previously convicted of one of the aforementioned predicate felonies in the preceding five years.

New York also punishes third-degree identity theft where the victim of such theft is a known member of the armed forces presently deployed outside of the continental United States. Such conduct is punishable as "aggravated identity theft," a class D felony.

"Personal identifying information" specifically includes a person's name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver's license number, social security number, place of employment, mother's maiden name, financial services account number or code, savings account number or code, checking account number or code, brokerage account number or code, credit card account number or code, debit card number or code, automated teller machine number or code, taxpayer identification number, computer system password, signature or copy of a signature, electronic signature, fingerprint, voice print, retinal image or iris image of another person, telephone calling card number, mobile identification number or code, electronic serial number or personal identification number, or any other name, number, code or information that may be used alone or in conjunction with other such information to assume the identity of another person.

Defenses to Identity Theft Charges

  • Defendant was less than 21 years old at the time of the theft and his or her sole purpose was to purchase alcohol
  • Defendant was less than 18 years old at the time of the theft and his or her sole purpose was to purchase tobacco products
  • Defendant used or possessed another person's personal identifying or identification information for the sole purpose of misrepresenting his or her age to gain access to a place with such restrictions

Penalties and Sentences

Identity theft is punishable as a class A misdemeanor in its most basic form and as a class D felony in its most serious form. Thus, a court will impose sentences of up to one year for basic identity theft and of 3 to 7 years in prison for first-degree or aggravated identity theft. A court may also impose a fine ranging from up to $1,000 to the greater of $5,000 or double the defendant's gain from commission of the theft.

New York Identity Theft Statute

Burglary and Related Offenses
Penal Code Article 140

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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