The Versatility of Identity Theft Prosecutions

Posted By Galluzzo & Arnone LLP || 30-Sep-2010

The New York Post reported recently on a case that is currently being tried in a Manhattan courtroom involving a man, Rafael Golb, who is, according to the story, “accused of going over the line and using criminal means to target rivals of his dad, noted Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Norman Golb.” The top charge? Identity Theft in the 2nd Degree. Specifically, Mr. Golb appears to be charged with assuming the identity of another person by presenting himself as that other person, or by acting as that other person or by using personal identifying information of that other person to commit such crimes as forgery, criminal personation, and aggravated harassment.

The full text of the Identity Theft statute is below:

	§ 190.79 Identity theft in the second degree. A person is guilty of
	 identify theft in the second degree when he or she knowingly and with
	 intent to defraud assumes the identity of another person by presenting
	 himself or herself as that other person, or by acting as that other person
	 or by using personal identifying information of that other person, and
	 thereby: 1. obtains goods, money, property or services or uses credit
	 in the name of such other person in an aggregate amount that exceeds five
	 hundred dollars; or 2. causes financial loss to such person or to another
	 person or persons in an aggregate amount that exceeds five hundred dollars;
	 or 3. commits or attempts to commit a felony or acts as an accessory to
	 the commission of a felony; or 4. commits the crime of identity theft
	 in the third degree as defined in section 190.78 of this article and has
	 been previously convicted within the last five years of identity theft
	 in the third degree as defined in section 190.78, identity theft in the
	 second degree as defined in this section, identity theft in the first
	 degree as defined in section 190.80, unlawful possession of personal identification
	 information in the third degree as defined in section 190.81, unlawful
	 possession of personal identification information in the second degree
	 as defined in section 190.82, unlawful possession of personal identification
	 information in the first degree as defined in section 190.83, unlawful
	 possession of a skimmer device in the second degree as defined in section
	 190.85, unlawful possession of a skimmer device in the first degree as
	 defined in section 190.86, grand larceny in the fourth degree as defined
	 in section 155.30, grand larceny in the third degree as defined in section
	 155.35, grand larceny in the second degree as defined in section 155.40
	 or grand larceny in the first degree as defined in section 155.42 of this
	 chapter. Identity theft in the second degree is a class E felony.

Identity Theft charges are becoming increasingly popular amongst New York prosecutors to address such acts as credit card fraud, computer-related fraud, and a bevy of related charges. The Golb prosecution demonstrates the versatility of the charge because in may not be immediately obvious that an “identity theft” has occurred as it would be in a case of robbery, burglary, or shoplifting.

Moreover, Identity Theft charges can be used to work to elevate what would normally be a misdemeanor theft to a felony. Normally, in order for a larceny charge to be elevated from a petit larceny misdemeanor to a grand larceny felony the property taken must be worth over $1000. However, a theft of between $500 and $1000 could in fact be elevated to a felony using this charge as long as one of the earlier preconditions are met. Thus, by reducing the misdemeanor-felony threshold level by $500, the legislature demonstrating a desired reduction in the amount in controversy where the means of the theft are more personal, as it were.

Identity Theft charges can also be used to “pile on” a defendant who is already charged with criminal fraud, forgery, or other pre-existing, related charges. After all, “Identity Theft” has become a public buzzword, and sounds much worse to a jury pool consisting of people who may, in fact, be terrified of so-called identity thieves.

If you or a loved one has been charged with identity theft or any related charge in New York, you should speak to experienced attorneys familiar with the identity theft statutes.

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