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Is Identity Theft a Federal Crime?


Experienced White Collar Crime Lawyers Defending Identity Theft Charges in New Mexico

identity theftIdentity theft, also referred to as identity fraud, is a crime when one illegally uses a person’s personal information (name, date of birth, or social security number) for personal gain. They may obtain this personal information through deception, theft, or fraud.

For those arrested for identity theft, the question of whether they could face federal charges is a big concern.

Assessing Identity Theft Laws

It is a crime in New Mexico to illegally obtain or use another person’s identity. Whether it is personal information or financial, PIN numbers, credit history, social security numbers, and a person’s name are considered private property. If information is obtained through wallets, purses, stolen mail, identification, credit or debit cards, or unlawful access, it is also a crime.

Identity theft is a fast-growing criminal act in the country; therefore, lawmakers are working to increase penalties for offenders to deter future offenders. Identity theft robs victims of time, money, and their privacy.

In 1998, Congress passed a law that made identity theft a federal crime. Therefore, if you are arrested in New Mexico for identity theft, you may face federal charges. Known as the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, anyone who knowingly transfers or uses someone’s personal information during unlawful activity is violating a federal act and will be charged with a felony.

The law in 1998 was followed by another in 2004, known as the Theft Penalty Enhancement Act. This increases the penalties of identity theft cases, which allows judges to impose an additional two-year penalty for general identity theft cases and an increase of five years for terrorism-type identity theft cases.

The Crime of Electronic Fraud

Under New Mexico Statute Section 30-16-24.1, it is a crime to obtain a person’s identifying information through electronic fraud. This is known as “phishing” and occurs when an identity thief fraudulently obtains information through falsified emails or websites.

Punishments for Identity Theft in New Mexico

If you are arrested for identity theft in New Mexico, you may face a fourth-degree felony. This is punishable by as much as 18 months in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000. You may be required to pay restitution to the victim, which could include hundreds of thousands of dollars. You may also be required to not only pay back the funds stolen, but cover the victims’ attorney fees, resolving debts (including interest), and pay to clean up their credit history.

Speak with a New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney Now

If you have been arrested for identity theft, you must speak with a criminal defense attorney. With federal charges a possibility, you cannot risk being charged with a felony. The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can help. Let us review your case for free today.

Schedule a free case evaluation now by calling 505-375-4672 or requesting your consultation appointment online.