Federal Identity Theft Charges

 Posted on April 18, 2024 in Identity Theft

Chicago,Identity theft is a growing concern in our country and the federal government comes down harshly on offenders. Even minimum penalties for a federal offense are severe.

Identity theft charges must be dealt with immediately. If you suspect that you are under federal investigation for identity theft or have already been formally charged, you need to speak with a Chicago identity theft lawyer today. 

Overview of Identity Theft 

Federal law makes it a crime to steal and use another person’s personal data for economic gain through fraud or deception. Identity theft can involve taking a personal identification document, falsifying a document, or retrieving someone’s personal data.

While the majority of identity theft cases are prosecuted in state court, the federal government may prosecute an offender if the person is stealing large sums of money or numerous victims are involved. 

Personal information can include any of the following:

  • Social security numbers

  • Debit and credit card numbers

  • Driver’s license numbers

  • Bank account and PIN numbers

  • Birth or death certificates

Identity Theft Examples

Federal identity theft may include any of the following scenarios:

  • Stealing a person’s social security number to obtain a federal tax refund

  • Stealing a person’s credit card number to make online purchases

  • Stealing a blank check and forging the account holder’s signature

  • Submitting a fraudulent credit card application

  • Altering a driver’s license to open a bank account or secure a loan

Penalties Under 18 U.S.C. §1028

Offenders are usually prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. §1028. Federal punishment for identity theft is a 15-year maximum sentence and a fine. However, if the offense was committed in connection with drug trafficking or a violent crime, a defendant may receive a 20-year sentence and be fined. A defendant faces a 30-year sentence if the theft was committed as part of domestic or international terrorism.

Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998

Congress amended the relevant federal statute to make it unlawful for anyone to commit, attempt to commit, or assist another person in committing identity theft. The amendment, known as the Identity Theft and the Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, provides mandatory restitution to victims for any costs incurred as a result of the identity theft.

Additionally, Congress gives the United States Sentencing Commission the authority to review the U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines and to administer an appropriate penalty based on each specific case.


If you have been charged with identity theft, a Chicago identity theft lawyer can help determine the best strategy for a successful case outcome. 

Potential defenses may include:

Lack of Intent

The accused must steal the information with the intent to defraud another. If there is evidence that you did not have criminal intent behind obtaining the information, then a criminal defense attorney may be able to get the charges against you dropped.


If the individual consented to you having his or her identifying information, then you may have been authorized to use the information. 

Illegal Search and Seizure

In most circumstances, law enforcement must have a warrant to search your home. If the police obtained incriminating evidence against you as a result of an illegal search and seizure, the evidence will be inadmissible in court.

Charged with Identity Theft? Speak with a Chicago, IL Identity Theft Lawyer Today

Allegations of identity theft can tarnish your good name. Identity theft is often charged with other offenses, which means you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. 
If you have been accused of identity theft, speak with our Chicago, IL identity theft lawyer today. To schedule your complimentary consultation, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney online or by calling 312-629-0669.

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