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Florida law provides strict punishment for any defendant who is convicted of identity theft, and judges and prosecutors are taking this offense more seriously than ever. If you have been charged or are under investigation for identity theft it is extremely important to contact an attorney before speaking with law enforcement, and before your case is set for court. A lawyer can step in immediately and protect you by invoking your right to remain silent, and will make sure detectives do not attempt to contact you. Never speak to the police or any type of investigator without the presence of a lawyer. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida identity theft lawyer who specializes in defending clients charged with criminal use of personal identification information and unlawful possession of personal identification information. Both of these charges are punishable by the potential of a jail sentence and a permanent criminal conviction, and should be handled by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Benjamin has successfully represented numerous clients who have been charged with identity theft crimes, and is standing by to offer a free consultation at (954) 543-0305. He is available 7 days a week on the phone or in person at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach office locations. Benjamin can also travel to meet in a convenient location anywhere in the Tri-County area or along the Treasure Coast. He has extensive experience defending Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie County criminal cases.
Criminal use of personal identification information includes a wide range of conduct, and is one of the more common felony offenses in Florida. For purposes of the Florida statute, personal identification information includes just about any public or private information related to another person. This includes their name, address, social security number, driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, bank account number and credit or debit card number. It also includes pin numbers, medical records and unique biometric data such as their fingerprint, and access cards and other physical items belonging to another person, or created to depict another person. Any person who uses the information of another or possesses it with the intent to commit a fraud may be charged with a third-degree felony. If the fraud or attempted scheme has a value of over $5,000 the offense becomes a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The penalties may be enhanced if the information is furthered by the use of a public record, or if the victim was over 60 or under 18 years old. Using the information of a living or deceased individual or an active or dissolved company in order to commit a fraud may also result in a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years if the scheme was over $5,000 or if the defendant used the information of more than 10 but less than 20 individuals. A scheme valued at over $50,000 or using the information of 20 or more individuals will trigger first-degree felony charges and a 5-year mandatory sentence, and using the personal information of 30 or more living deceased individuals will trigger a potential 10-year mandatory. There are few Florida laws that provide mandatory sentences equivalent to those in the identity theft statute.
Possession, use or creation of a fake ID is illegal in Florida, but the penalties become harsher if the ID was used or intended to be used to commit a fraud. Simply possessing a fake ID with the intent to commit a fraud is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, and the potential of a permanent felony conviction. Anyone involved in the creation or distribution of fake IDs may also be charged with a felony under Florida law. Benjamin Herbst has successfully represented numerous individuals charged with offenses related to fraudulent ID cards, and understands the stakes involved. Many defendants charged with manufacturing fake IDs or possession of a fraudulent ID are first-time offenders, and most are relatively young. Benjamin will fight to make sure fake ID charges do not negatively affect a person’s future, and will do whatever it takes have the charges dismissed or reduced.
Even simple possession of another person’s identification information is a crime in Florida. This is true regardless of whether the defendant used or intended to use the information to commit a fraud. Knowingly possessing another person’s mail, physical documents, identification cards, bank account or credit card numbers, passport number or social security number is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law, and the state must only prove the defendant knowingly and intentionally possessed the information. If the defendant is found with the personal identification information of more than 5 persons, he or she can be charged with a third-degree felony. While the state only has to prove possession, and not use or intent to use the personal information, there may be a number of defenses available that could potentially result in a dismissal of the charges. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in charges for unlawful possession of personal identification information. He is available 7 days a week to provide a free consultation on these defenses, as well as to answer and general identity theft questions.