Identity theft in North Carolina is a class G felony, meaning that the penalty for conviction may include a maximum of 47 months imprisonment. The most common type of identity theft involves using a social security number (SSN) for financial gain. For example, using someone else’s SSN to obtain credit cards or open bank accounts is considered felony impersonation because the person is legally responsible for any debts those accounts incur.
Classes of Identity Theft in North Carolina
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in North Carolina. There are many different types of identity theft, but all fall into two main categories: felony and misdemeanor.
Class G Felony Identity Theft
If you use someone else’s identity for your gain and that person suffers financial loss as a result, then it is likely that your actions will be considered felony identity theft.
Some examples of felony identity theft include:
- Using someone else’s social security number or other identifying information to steal their money by opening new accounts with banks or credit card companies; may also include making purchases online using their information.
- Stealing money from someone else by opening new accounts and taking out loans under their name without their permission, leaving them responsible for repaying the debt (this is called “check kiting”).
Misdemeanor Identity Theft in North Carolina
Suppose you use another person’s identity for personal gain, and no one suffers any financial loss. In that case, your actions will likely be considered misdemeanor identity theft. Examples include:
- Using another person’s social security number to obtain credit cards or open bank accounts
- Using another person’s name on a loan application
Penalties for Identity Theft in North Carolina
Identity theft is a serious crime that can have lasting consequences for the victim. The penalties for identity theft are severe, and the potential for jail time is confirmed.
The following are some examples of how the law treats identity theft:
- If you use someone else’s identity to get credit cards or loans, you can be charged with felony identity theft. Felony convictions can result in up to two years in prison and a fine of $200,000. However, if you use another person’s identity to commit a crime that results in death or injury to another person, you could face five years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
- Suppose you use yours or someone else’s name on official documents to get money or other benefits from government agencies such as social security or veterans’ affairs benefits. In that case, this is considered misdemeanor fraud under North Carolina law.. Misdemeanor convictions carry up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000 plus restitution payments.
- Suppose you use another person’s name or personal identifying information to get a job or other employment benefits like health insurance or workers’ compensation coverage. In that case, the penalties increase from a felony to a Class H felony, and the possible prison time increases from three to ten years.
Do I Have to Pay Restitution to the Victim?
If you are convicted of felony identity theft in North Carolina, you will be required to pay restitution to the victim. Restitution is a sum you must pay to compensate the victim for losses due to the offense.
Restitution can include:
- The value of any property or services obtained by or transferred to another person as a result of the offense
- Medical and other expenses incurred by the victim in connection with physical, psychiatric, or psychological care, treatment, or rehabilitation; and
- Lost income
The amount of restitution will depend on the value of the property or services obtained by the defendant.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Fight Felony Charges
Felony charges are serious and can carry substantial prison time. If you have been charged with felony identity theft in North Carolina, you should immediately speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A felony identify theft lawyer can help by explaining your rights and options under the law, investigating your case, and building an effective defense strategy for trial or plea bargain negotiation.
Using several strategies, an experienced North Carolina felony identity theft attorney can help you fight felony identity theft charges. These include:
Challenging the Evidence Against You
An experienced attorney will know how to challenge evidence that looks incriminating but isn’t. For example, if your lawyer finds out that a witness has lied or been influenced by someone else’s testimony, they may be able to get charges against you dropped or reduced.
Challenging the Credibility of Witnesses Against You
An experienced attorney will know how to discredit witnesses who might make false accusations against you because they have something to gain or lose by testifying against you. For example, the person who claims that your DNA was found at a crime scene might have been pressured into making this statement by police officers who want to get a conviction at any cost.
Using a Plea Bargain As Leverage Against Prosecutors
A plea bargain is an agreement between prosecutors and defendants in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to some lesser charge(s) then initially charged in exchange for a reduced sentence. Plea bargaining is a common practice that allows both sides to save time and resources by avoiding trial and resolving cases quickly.
Using plea bargains as leverage against prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys can negotiate reduced charges or sentences for their clients. This can be especially useful when facing felony charges because felonies are automatically considered “serious” crimes under North Carolina law. As a result, judges must impose harsher punishments on defendants who commit serious crimes like identity theft than they would on those who commit less serious ones like breaking. So by negotiating down from a felony charge, your attorney may be able to secure a lighter sentence for you.
Let our North Carolina Felony Identity Theft Lawyers Fight for You
If you are facing federal or state criminal charges, King Law can help. We have experience defending clients in North Carolina and the surrounding states. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping people in trouble with the law.
Our team of experienced lawyers is prepared to fight for your rights and freedom. We know that you may be confused about what to do next, and we want you to know that we are here to help you through this difficult time and know how to handle identity theft-related charges.
To learn more about how we can help with your case, contact our office at (888) 748-5464 or fill out our online form.