Philadelphia Identity Theft Attorney

Identity theft is a crime in Pennsylvania that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the goods and services obtained via identity theft. If you have been charged with identity theft, you should contact criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to discuss your case. He may be able to build a solid defense for you by proving you did not commit the offense or by challenging the prosecutor and weakening his or her case against you. 

How does Pennsylvania define identity theft?

Identity theft is a crime controlled by 18 Pa.C.S. § 4120, in which it states:

A person commits the offense of identity theft of another person if he possesses or uses, through any means, identifying information of another person without the consent of that other person to further any unlawful purpose.

Identifying Information

Identifying information is provided by statute and includes the following:

  • any document, photographic, pictorial, or computer image of another person; or 
  • any fact used to establish identity, including but not limited to: 
    • a name, 
    • birth date, 
    • Social Security number, 
    • driver's license number, 
    • nondriver governmental identification number, 
    • telephone number, 
    • checking account number, 
    • savings account number, 
    • student identification number, 
    • employee or payroll number, or 
    • electronic signature.

Things To Know

One offense counts as only one single use of the stolen identity -- thus, if a person uses, for example, someone else's credit card four times, it doesn't matter that it was only one person defrauded; rather, what matters is the four credit card uses. This means, as another example, you can face multiple counts of identity theft using one person's driver's license if you used it multiple times.

In Pennsylvania, you should know that identity theft charges can be brought by local, state, and federal prosecutors -- they have concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute when the allegations involve more than one county or state. Making matters worse for anyone charged with identity theft, the statute essentially allows hearsay to be admitted at a preliminary hearing (though it would be challenged at trial), i.e.:

A report to a law enforcement agency by a person stating that the person's identifying information has been lost or stolen or that the person's identifying information has been used without the person's consent shall be prima facie evidence that the identifying information was possessed or used without the person's consent.

This means the police report rather than the testimony of the reporting person would be sufficient at a preliminary hearing.

What are the penalties of identity theft in Philadelphia?

The penalties for identity theft in Philadelphia depend on the grade of the crime, which depends on the value of the stolen goods or services. The below table outlines what a suspect could face in terms of prison and fines if convicted.

Value of Stolen Property or Services

Offense Grade

Maximum Incarceration

Maximum Fines

More than $2,000

3rd-degree felony

7 years

$15,000

Less than $2,000

1st-degree misdemeanor

5 years

$10,000

Value is not the only means to determine the grade of the crime, but certain situations determine it, too:

  • When identity theft is part of a conspiracy, the crime is charged as a third-degree felony. 
  • If the charge is a third or subsequent offense, the crime is charged as a second-degree felony.
  • If the victim is 60 years old, under 18 years old, or a person dependent on someone else's care, the offense is enhanced by one grade. For example, if the victim is 61 years old and the value is less than $2,000, the charge is a third-degree felony rather than a first-degree misdemeanor.

Fortunately, with identity theft, there are no mandatory minimum sentences. But the risk of the above penalties is sufficient reason to retain an attorney who can help you fight the charge.

Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Identity Theft Attorney Today

An insurance fraud charge is a serious matter in Philadelphia. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced and committed identity theft attorney. He has the knowledge, insight, and resources to help develop a defense strategy that works in your best interests. Contact the Lento Law Firm today either online or at 215-535-5353 to set up a consultation. 

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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