New York Identity Theft Laws & Charges + Statute of Limitations

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The State of New York has several laws associated with identity fraud and identity theft. This crime is committed when an individual knowingly and willfully obtains someone else’s identifying data and uses that information to establish new financial accounts, or benefit in some way. The perpetrators in a case of identity fraud generally impersonates the victim from a financial perspective, which means that they can ruin the credit of the victim, and rack up some serious charges.

New York also defines it as a crime to possess someone else’s personal information. Under the laws of New York, people commit a crime of identity theft by using another person’s information to:

  • Obtain services, goods, credit or anything of value
  • Cause financial losses to the victim or other people
  • Attempt to commit a crime

Laws and Penalties

A person may be accused of committing identity theft in New York if they impersonate an actual person – it is not identity theft to use an alias. What’s more, it’s worth noting that it is a crime in New York to possess a skimmer or scanner for transmitting or copying information from credit or debit cards. This crime is punished more severely when the individual in question has a prior conviction for identity fraud, or similar crimes.

Most of the time, identity theft is punishable as a class A misdemeanor – this is in its most simplistic form. In its most serious form, identity theft can be elevated to a class D felony. For a basic misdemeanor, a defendant can be subject to up to one year in prison. However, for first-degree aggravated identity theft, or a class D felony up to seven years in prison might be ordered. Courts may also impose a fine that is either up to $5,000, or double the gain from the theft.

In many cases, the New York court may also order that the defendant, when found guilty, must pay restitution for the money that is lost by the victim as a result of the crime. Victims, in this instance, can include anyone whose identity was assumed during the crime, and anyone whose personal information was used. A victim may also include a third party in the crime, such as a credit card company who might have lost money as a result of the offense.

The severity of the crime of identity theft is considered more severely in New York when certain factors are in place, such as:

  • The services or goods or losses exceed more than $500 in value.
  • The defendant has a prior history of convictions in the realm of identity theft or related crimes during the last five years.
  • The defendant has committed or attempted a felony.
  • Lawmakers in New York have also been known to single out defendants who have attempted to impersonate members of the armed forces.

Identity Theft Defenses

There are a number of options available that defendants can use when protecting themselves against the charge of identity theft in New York. Often these defenses are similar to the solutions that lawyers utilize in other fraud-related cases, such as:

  • Indicate that the defendant in question was under the age of twenty-one during the time of the offense, and used a person’s identifying information in an attempt to buy alcohol, tobacco, or gain admission to a place with an age restriction. For instance, a teenager using a driver’s license to see a movie will not be convicted of identity theft.
  • Lawyers may also suggest lack of intent when defending a person against a conviction of identity theft. For example, they may suggest that the information was taken accidentally without intention to commit a crime, or that the accused believed that they had permission, or the right to use the information that they had.
  • Another defense in the case of identity theft is lack of knowledge. This defense can be used when a person accidentally uses someone else’s information without intent to harm. For instance, if the accused accidentally picked up someone else’s card and used that to swipe or use it for contactless payment, they may be exonerated from the crime of identity theft if they are willing to give back the money they accidentally used.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, the current statute of limitations for identity theft or identity fraud is six years. There is no statute for private claims of forgery, and in some cases, it may be possible for the statute of limitations to be tolled.

New York Identity Theft Cases