LifeLock. We have all seen the commercials, advertising their identify-theft protection services. “LifeLock looks for use of your personal information, and with proprietary technology, alerts you to a wide range of potential threats to your identity,” according to the company’s website. And, let’s face it, identify fraud has—unfortunately—become a common crime that many people have fallen victim to, having their personal information stolen by another person for financial gain. Some examples of identify fraud include: using someone else’s social security number, using stolen checks, opening up a fraudulent bank account using another person’s personal information and using a stolen ATM card.
Identity Fraud in Georgia
Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 16-9-121, a person commits the offense of identity fraud when
he or she willfully and fraudulently:
(1) Without authorization or consent, uses or possesses with intent to fraudulently use identifying information concerning a person;
(2) Uses identifying information of an individual under 18 years old over whom he or she exercises custodial authority;
(3) Uses or possesses with intent to fraudulently use identifying information concerning a deceased individual;
(4) Creates, uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use any counterfeit or fictitious identifying information concerning a fictitious person with intent to use such counterfeit or fictitious identification information for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of a crime or fraud on another person; or
(5) Without authorization or consent, creates, uses, or possesses with intent to fraudulently use any counterfeit or fictitious identifying information concerning a real person with intent to use such counterfeit or fictitious identification information for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of a crime or fraud on another person.
Further, a person commits the offense of identity fraud by receipt of fraudulent identification information when he or she willingly accepts for identification purposes identifying information which he or she knows to be fraudulent, stolen, counterfeit, or fictitious. In any prosecution under this subsection it shall not be necessary to show a conviction of the principal thief, counterfeiter, or fraudulent user.
However, this statute does not apply to a person under the age of 21 who uses a fraudulent, counterfeit, or other false identification card for the purpose of obtaining entry into a business establishment or for purchasing items which he or she is not of legal age to purchase.
Penalty for an Identify Fraud Conviction in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, identity fraud is a felony. Under O.C.G.A. § 16-9-126, a violation of this statute is punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years or a fine not to exceed $100,000.00, or both. Any person who commits such a violation for the second or any subsequent offense shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three nor more than 15 years, a fine not to exceed $250,000.00, or both.
Georgia Case Law & Identity Fraud
In Archer v. State, 291 Ga. App. 175, 176(1), 661 S.E.2d 230 (2008), William Douglas Archer was indicted for two counts of forgery in the first degree and one count of identity fraud, arising out of the theft of three checks from his employer. Archer rented a house from Jim White and also worked for White’s remodeling company, North Georgia Construction. On Friday, August 20, 2004, White and Archer stopped at a Home Depot store in the city of Hiram. White went into the store and Archer stayed alone in the vehicle, where the North Georgia company checkbook was lying on a seat.
About three weeks later, on September 13, 2004, White and his wife were balancing the company checking account when they discovered that a page containing three checks was missing from the checkbook. The checks were eventually recovered, and all three of them had been made payable to Archer in varying amounts: check 1465 was for $500, check 1466 was for $200 and check 1467 was for $100. White testified that he had not written any of the three checks to Archer and that it was not his signature on any of those checks. He further noted that he only pays his employees on Fridays, whereas the date listed on each of the stolen checks was August 21, 2004, which was a Saturday. White also testified that he is familiar with Archer’s signature and he identified the endorsement on the back of each of the stolen checks as Archer’s signature. The three endorsed checks all had the same driver’s license number written on them, and a sheriff’s deputy testified he had verified that it is Archer’s license number.
Archer was tried before a jury, which found him guilty of all three offenses. The trial judge sentenced Archer to serve ten years in confinement, followed by ten years on probation. Archer appealed his conviction. The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, reversing one of the forgery convictions and affirming the identify fraud conviction.
Possible Defenses Against an Identity Fraud Charge
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, there may be some possible defenses that can lead to your case being dismissed or the charges against you reduced. In order to be convicted of identity fraud in the state of Georgia, the prosecution must prove all of the elements of each charge beyond a reasonable doubt. In an identity fraud case, the best possible defense would be to present evidence to the Court that you had the alleged victim’s consent to use the his or her personal information. If consent is proven, the crime of identity fraud cannot have been committed.
Contact Bixon Law Today
If you have been charged with identity fraud, contact us today for assistance. As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we can help answer your questions and help you resolve your case. Here at Bixon Law, we represent clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. Our lawyers are committed to helping people in difficult situations and working to get our clients the best possible outcome. We invite you to call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation today.