July 25, 2013 By Wallin & Klarich

An Orange County man has been sentenced to one year in federal prison after he admitted to stealing the identities and passwords of more than 700 fellow students at California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM). The Associated Press reports that the Huntington Beach resident was sentenced July 15 for wire fraud, unauthorized access of a computer and identity theft.

AP reports that the 22-year-old man stole the identities last year and utilized them to cast more than 600 votes for himself as student body president through the university’s online voting system. According to prosecutors, the man installed devices into campus computers in order to obtain students’ user names and passwords. The student body president at the university receives an annual salary of $8,000.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is the act of someone taking personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or Internet passwords and using them for unlawful purposes. Under California Penal Code Section 530.5, all forms of identity theft are illegal in California. According to the California Attorney General’s Office, there were 12.6 million adult victims of identity theft nationwide in 2012 – one victim every three seconds. That number represents 5.3 percent of all adults in the United States, including more than 1.6 million Californians. The total cost of identity theft in 2012 was estimated to be $21 billion. The number of identity theft victims increased by 8 percent in 2012, up from 11.6 million in 2011.

Consequences of an Identity Theft Conviction

Under California law, identity theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. A person who is convicted of misdemeanor identity theft could face up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. An individual who is convicted of felony identity theft faces up to three years in California state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Another important point to remember is that identity theft is not only prosecuted by the Orange County District Attorney under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998. It is also vigorously prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a federal crime. If convicted under federal law, a defendant could face up to 30 years in a federal prison and face hefty monetary penalties.

Defending Identity Theft Charges in Southern California

There are several potential defenses in identity theft cases. In order to obtain a conviction for identity theft, the prosecution must prove that the defendant used the alleged victim’s information unlawfully and with the intent of committing fraud. Also, if the defendant was a computer services or access software provider, he or she can show that there was no intent to commit fraud as federal law exempts such professionals. The prosecution must prove in such cases that the defendant sold or transferred personal information to commit fraud or for personal gain.

A person who is facing identity theft charges is not only in legal hot water. He or she is also looking at serious repercussions such as job loss, loss of a professional license and financial problems. An identity theft conviction can immediately tarnish an individual’s reputation and cast a serious doubt on his or her credibility. If you have been accused of identity theft, please contact Wallin & Klarich Law Corporation, one of the most experienced firms in criminal defense. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich will fight to protect your rights and reputation. You need a tenacious legal defense team that has an excellent track record of identifying weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and presenting a winning defense. This is why we employ only the best attorneys in the business, so we can ensure the best possible results for your case. It’s also why we’ve attained a perfect 5 out of 5 AV rating and have attorneys who hold a superb 10.0 AVVO rating. If you are serious about getting your charges dropped, we are serious about helping you reach that goal. Don’t delay, call today and speak with a member of our legal staff whose sole goal is to assist you with your legal situation. (888) 280-6839

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