In terms of white collar crimes in North Carolina, identity theft is one that seems to be growing in occurrences. While it is a nonviolent crime, that doesn’t mean that it’s any less harmful to society or dealt with in a less severe way by law enforcement.
Identity theft laws in North Carolina can be tricky to break down but not impossible. If you’re facing charges related to identity theft, then it’s vital for you to understand what laws govern this facet in the state of North Carolina – and the potential penalties that can be faced. Here is what you need to know.
Identity Theft: What Is It?
In North Carolina, identity theft occurs when someone uses the identifying information of another person to:
- Obtain property
- Buy something
- Avoid legal consequences
- Procure something of value
It doesn’t matter if the victim of the identity theft is alive or deceased. Either way, it’s still against the law.
In most cases, identity theft is a Class G felony. If the prosecution can prove that they used identifying information of the victim intentionally to represent themselves as that person, and the purpose was to make credit or some other financial transaction in that person’s name, then they will be found guilty.
A Class G felony is punishable by up to 31 months in prison. However, if there are other circumstances involved in the case, then it could be charged as a Class F or Class E felony. If convicted of a Class E felony, then the defendant can go to prison for up to 41 months, while a Class E felony can send them to prison for as long as 63 months.
In general, Class F felonies are charged in situations where the defendant possessed the identifying information of three or more people at the time of their arrest. Class E felonies are charged if a person trafficks in stolen identities and gets information to transfer, purchase, or sell. Assisting someone else in committing identity theft can also be a Class E felony.
What Type of Information is Considered Identifying?
Since one of the major elements of this crime is the stealing of identifying information, it’s important to understand what type of information that is. Under the law, identifying information is broadly defined as any of the following:
- Credit card numbers
- Social security numbers
- Digital signatures
- Savings or checking account numbers
- Debit card numbers
- Electronic identification numbers
- Employer tax ID numbers
- PIN codes
- Biometric data
- Digital signatures
- Any type of information that is used to access financial resources
What If You’re Arrested for Identity Theft?
Next, remain silent. You do have to give the police your identifying information, but you should stop there. You don’t have to answer their questions, and you need to be aware that any statements you make to the police may be used against you later.
Finally, get an attorney. Bring an experienced attorney onto your case as soon as possible. It will prove a very positive move to protect your rights in the situation.