Over the last several decades, as debit and credit cards have become more universal and online shopping has become more popular, fraud and identity theft have become increasingly common. Yet, the law regarding identity theft is much broader than many think. Ohioans who have been accused of this criminal offense need to familiarize themselves with this law, as their freedom could be on the line.
Under Ohio law, personal identifying information is broadly defined. It includes things such as credit card and savings account numbers, but it also includes another individual's name, drivers' license, Social Security number, birth certificate and even place of employment. Ohio law makes it illegal for an individual to present this information in an attempt to be portrayed as another person without that person's consent. It's also against the law to use this information to commit fraud. This is the case even if the individual whose information is being used is deceased.
Identity theft is typically a felony charge. The penalties that may be imposed on a convicted individual depend on the specific crime committed. Those convicted of utilizing identity theft to obtain more than $150,000 or committing identity theft against a protected class like the elderly, service members or the disabled, may face up to a decade or more in prison in addition to fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.
There are defense options, though. An individual accused of identity theft may, for example, argue that he or she was impliedly given consent to use the information in question. Alternatively, of course, a defendant can argue that he or she did not use the information being investigated. The point is that those accused of this white collar crime need to know their options before moving forward. In many instances, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help these individuals pursue a legal strategy that supports their best interests and gives the accused individual the best possible chance of beating the charges given the circumstances.
Source: Ohio Revised Code, "2913.49 Identity Fraud," accessed on March 17, 2017