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What are the Penalties for Committing Identity Theft in Maryland?

According to the Maryland Attorney General’s office, approximately 15 million Americans are victims of “identity theft” every year. Identity theft is a type of criminal fraud that generally involves using another person’s personal information–without their consent–to obtain goods, services, or some other form of financial gain. If you are accused of identity theft, you could end up facing serious felony charges and a significant amount of jail time if convicted.

The Legal Definition of “Identity Theft”

The Maryland Criminal Code defines a specific set of offenses as identity fraud, which is synonymous with identity theft. The core crime occurs when someone “knowingly and willfully assume[s] the identity of another” for any of the following the purposes:

  • To avoid identification, apprehension, or prosecution for a crime;
  • To fraudulently get a benefit, credit, good, service, or anything else of value;
  • To fraudulently access health information or health care; or
  • To fraudulently avoid the payment of debt or any other legal obligation.

As you can see from this list, identity theft is not limited to cases where you actually take someone else’s identification–say, a credit card–and use it to purchase goods. It can also apply to cases where you give a police officer a fake ID–even the identification for a fictional person–to avoid being arrested for another criminal charge. Similarly, you can be charged with criminal identity theft if you use someone else’s health insurance, even with their consent, to obtain healthcare as that other person.

How Identity Theft is Punished

Identity fraud is punished much the same as any other forms of criminal theft. Maryland defines the level of the offense based on the amount of goods, services, or other things of value that were fraudulently obtained. Here is a basic rundown:

  • Identity fraud involving between $100 and $1,500 in goods or services is a misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty is one year in prison and/or a $500 fine.
  • If the fraud involves between $1,500 and $25,000 in goods or services, it is a felony, and the maximum penalty is five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
  • If the fraud involves between $25,000 and $100,000 in goods or services, the maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.
  • If the fraud involves $100,000 or more in goods or services, the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine.

In addition to the penalties described above, a court may also order a person convicted of identity fraud to make restitution to their victims. Such restitution may include, but is not limited to, paying for the costs of clearing the victim’s credit history or credit rating.

Contact Prince George’s County, Maryland, Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions contact our office to speak to an experienced lawyer at (301) 705-5137.