Identity Fraud in Ohio

Identity fraud in Ohio is often referred to as identity theft. Identity theft occurs when one obtains and uses another individual’s personal information without their permission to commit a fraud. Identity theft is a state and federal crime.

In the state of Ohio, you can’t impersonate another person, using their personal information, and you can’t use someone else’s personal information to help another individual commit fraud. Even if you are not committing identity theft, you can be charged with identity theft if you provide someone permission to use your personal information with the intent to defraud. The law is loosely defined to include any use of information that isn’t yours, meaning you might be charged and subsequently convicted if you do not have an effective defense strategy. For example, if the use of personal information is part of a legally recognized guardianship, this can be an affirmative defense.

The Ohio Revised Code 2913.49 Identity Fraud.

(A) As used in this section, “personal identifying information” includes, but is not limited to, the following: the name, address, telephone number, driver’s license, driver’s license number, commercial driver’s license, commercial driver’s license number, state identification card, state identification card number, social security card, social security number, birth certificate, place of employment, employee identification number, mother’s maiden name, demand deposit account number, savings account number, money market account number, mutual fund account number, other financial account number, personal identification number, password, or credit card number of a living or dead individual.

Section 2913.49 of the Ohio Revised Code broadly defines identity fraud, also commonly referred to as identity theft, as the theft and use of someone else’s personal information. This includes, but is not limited to, bank account information, driver’s license, social security, and credit card numbers. Identity fraud is a complex matter, and a conviction could lead to probation or imprisonment a fine and restitution.

Identity Fraud in Ohio is a Felony

In Ohio, identity fraud is a fifth-degree felony and if convicted you are facing a sentence of probation or a prison term of 6 to 12 months, as well as a fine up to $2,500.

If the credit, property, service, debt, or other legal obligations involved in the course of identity fraud, are valued between $1,000 or more but less than $7,500, then identity fraud is a fourth-degree felony and if convicted you are facing a sentence of probation or 6 to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $5,000.

If the identity fraud is $7,500 or more but less than $150,000, then identity fraud is a third-degree felony and if convicted you are facing a sentence of probation or 12, 18, 24, 30, or 36 months in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.  Additionally, depending on your criminal history, you may be sentenced to 48 or 60 months in prison.

If the value of the identity fraud is more than $150,000, then identity fraud is a second-degree felony and if convicted, you are facing a prison term of between 2 and 8 years and a fine not to exceed $15,000

Protected Classes

The Ohio Revised Code (Section 2913.49, (I)(3)) specifies that elder persons, disabled persons, active-duty service members, or spouses of active-duty service members are in a protected class. Identity fraud committed against this protected class will be charged as a higher-degree felony. For example, if the identity fraud is valued at less than $7,500 and is committed against someone in a protected class, the felony becomes a third-degree charge instead of a fourth-degree charge. You can be charged with a first-degree felony if the crime is valued at more than $150,000 and committed against someone in a protected class. If convicted of a first-degree felony, you are facing a prison term of between 3 and 11 years and a fine not to exceed $20,000.The personal information of a person that is deceased is still protected, and it is illegal to obtain, possess, use, or create identifying information for fraudulent purposes.

A felony conviction for identity fraud becomes part of your permanent record, and such a conviction will prevent you from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Many other collateral penalties may be imposed if you are convicted – penalties that can have an adverse impact on many aspects of your life, including your current job and future employment; you may also encounter professional licensure and immigration issues. A skilled criminal defense attorney will give you the best options for your case.

If you have been charged with identity theft in Ohio, an experienced criminal defense attorney will help determine whether you have any defense(s) to the charge(s) and will thoroughly discuss your options. Should you decide to go to trial, a skilled defense attorney is an absolute necessity. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney.