Identity Theft

Identity theft can be prosecuted by the state or federal governments. In Florida, identity theft is considered a white-collar crime and is often investigated by the Economic Crimes Unit of a law enforcement agency.

Identity theft is defined by Florida Statute § 817.568 as, willfully and without authorization fraudulently using another's personal identification information without first obtaining that person's consent.

Identity theft and other economic crimes have become some of the most common crimes in the United States, with so many financial transactions being handled through the internet, mobile digital wallet services, and other electronic payment methods.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cited various scams such as fraudulently filing for a U.S. Patent or Trademark, fake loans, and even scams "in the name of charity," that have been committed throughout the U.S. 

Identity theft is penalized very harshly in Florida, even when the victim does not suffer financial loss.


Attorney for Identity Theft in West Palm Beach, FL

Identity theft can be charged federally or by the State of Florida. Regardless of which government files the charges, identity theft crimes are punished very harshly. If you or someone you know has been charged with identity theft or any other economic crime, speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative.

Do not risk talking to the police before talking to an attorney. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A. we strive to provide the best possible counsel and fight for the best possible defense when our clients are charged with theft crimes.

We will guide our clients from start to finish and are dedicated litigators. With our main office in West Palm Beach, Florida, we accept cases throughout Palm Beach County, but we also take cases in Broward County and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Call (561) 283-3259 or fill out our online evaluation form to set up a consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers.


Examples of Identity Theft

Identity theft, in general, is outlined under Florida Statute § 817.568, as a person who willfully and without authorization fraudulently uses or possesses with the intent to use, another's personal identification without first obtaining that person's consent. Other examples of identity theft include:

Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card (or Equivalent): Florida Statute § 817.61 makes it illegal to use credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, or other credit or debit like cards that are stolen, altered, forged, counterfeit, or obtained through fraud, resulting in the theft or merchandise, money, or services.

Use of a Deceased Person's Information: Florida Statute § 817.568(8) makes it illegal to willfully and fraudulently use or possess with the intent to willfully or fraudulently use or possess a deceased person's personal information.

Forged, Fake, or Stolen Driver's License or State I.D. Cards: Florida Statute § 322.212, makes it illegal to knowingly possess or display any counterfeit, stolen, forged, fictitious or unlawfully issued driver's licenses or state identification card or any instrument resembling a driver's license or state I.D. card.

Use of a Minor's Personal Identification: Florida Statute § 817.568(6) makes it illegal for any person to willfully and without authorization frequently use personal identification information concerning an individual who is younger than 18 years old without the consent of that individual or his or her legal guardian.

Elderly Use of Personal Identification:  Florida Statute § 817.568(6) also makes it illegal for any person to willfully and without authorization frequently use a personal identification information concerning a person over the age of 60 without his or her consent.

  • Florida Statute § 825.103 makes elderly exploitation illegal as well. It is a crime to knowingly, by deception or by intimidation, obtain or use, or endeavor to obtain or use an elderly person's assets or funds with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive that person of the use or benefit of those assets by a person who stands in a position of trust or confidence with the elderly person or has a business relationship with the elderly person.
  • An elderly person is defined as a person sixty (60) years of age or older.

Obtaining Property by False Representation: Florida Statute § 817.02 makes it illegal to impersonate another individual to obtain funds, credit, property, etc….


Penalties for Identity Theft in Florida

The penalty for an identity theft conviction may depend on the specific identity theft crime charged. Generally, Identity theft charged under Florida Statute § 817.568, will be charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.

Identity theft of an elderly or minor person in Florida is charged as a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.

Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card may be charged as either a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to twelve (12) months in jail and up to $1,000 fines.


Additional Resources

Florida Statute § 817.568 – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature for more information on fraudulent practices charged under Florida Chapter 817 and other economic crimes. The statute also includes information about the penalties charged for various identity theft charges.

Recovering From Identity Theft – Visit the Federal Trade Commission website for more information about the various ways that identity theft may affect individuals. Find resources about data loss breaches, information for law enforcement agencies, businesses, and attorneys on identity theft.


Find an Attorney for Identity Theft in Palm Beach County, FL

If you or someone you know has been charged with identity theft or any other economic crime such as giving worthless checks in Florida or are subject to federal charges for an economic crime, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. to discuss potential charges and any potential solutions to your criminal problem.

We represent clients diligently and with integrity. Our attorneys strive to get our clients the best possible result, which includes getting charges dropped and criminal records expunged. Our office is located in West Palm Beach, but we accept cases throughout Palm Beach County, Florida, and in the surrounding areas of Miami-Dade County, and Broward County, FL.

Call (561) 283-3259 to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

This article was last updated on 7/20/2017.

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