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Is Identity Theft a Felony in NC?

In North Carolina, is identity theft a felony? The answer is yes. Identity theft is a Class G felony in our state, and even as a first-time offender, you may face serious consequences. Let’s look at identity theft and what happens if you face a conviction for this crime. We will also discuss the civil damages that a victim of identity fraud can seek.

What is Identity Theft in NC?

In a recent year in North Carolina, 6,688 individuals faced a felony conviction for identity theft. You commit identity theft in NC if you knowingly obtain someone’s identifying information to:

  • Fraudulently make financial or credit transactions
  • Obtain anything of value, benefit, or advantage
  • To avoid legal consequences

Ways to Commit Identity Theft in NC

There are many ways you can commit identity theft in NC. Some examples of scenarios you could face charges for include:

  • Using someone’s credit card without their knowledge or approval
  • Getting medications for free using someone else’s name at the pharmacy
  • Giving police someone else’s ID when you get stopped
  • Using someone’s ID to buy alcohol

Someone’s identifying information can include:

  • Social security or employer taxpayer identification numbers
  • Drivers license, State identification card, or passport numbers
  • Checking account numbers
  • Savings account numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Debit card numbers
  • Personal Identification (PIN) 
  • Electronic identification numbers, electronic mail names, or addresses
  • Internet account numbers or Internet identification names
  • Digital signatures
  • Any other numbers or information to access a person’s financial resources
  • Biometric data
  • Fingerprints
  • Passwords
  • Parent’s legal surname before marriage (2)

Is Identity Theft a Felony in NC?

As stated earlier, identity theft is at least a Class G felony in North Carolina. Even if this is your first offense, you can face felony charges.

The potential sentence for a Class G felony is up to 47 months in prison, or almost four years in prison. (3) You also may pay fines of up to $50,000 plus any restitution that is owed to the victim of identity theft. And, your criminal record can make it challenging to find housing, jobs, etc., for the rest of your life.

In addition to criminal charges and prison, you can also face a civil suit. The person you wrong can sue for $5,000 per identity theft or up to 3x the amount of their actual damages.

When Identity Theft is a Class F Felony

Identity theft becomes a Class F felony if your actions cause an identity theft victim to suffer:

  • Arrest
  • Detention
  • Conviction

For example, let’s say you drive home with a high blood alcohol concentration and law enforcement stops you. You give the officer an ID you found in a wallet whose picture looks like you.

Suppose the person gets arrested, kept in jail, or convicted for DUI, and law enforcement finds out that you committed the crime. In that case, your felony is a Class F. 

In addition to your sentence of up to 59 months in prison, criminal record, and attorney or court fees for your crime, you may need to pay restitution. (4) Restitution may consist of civil court monetary damages, lost wages, attorney, and court fees for the person whose identity you stole.

How to Defend Against Identity Theft Charges

If you find yourself facing identity theft charges in NC, it is crucial to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. North Carolina is tough on crime, and the potential consequences are significant.

An experienced lawyer will review the facts of your case and work with you to develop a strong defense. Depending on the circumstances, some possible defenses to identity theft in NC include:

  • You didn’t know the information was false when you used it
  • You reasonably believed the information was true when you used it
  • The other person voluntarily gave you their information
  • You only intended to use the identifying information for a lawful purpose
  • There was no fraudulent intent

Identity theft is a serious offense in North Carolina. If you face charges, it is essential to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

We Can Help

The Scharff Law Firm is here to help if you find yourself in this situation. We have experience with identity theft cases, and we know what it takes to build a strong defense. Our work includes investigating every aspect of your case, looking for rights violations, inspecting arresting papers and police procedures, and more. We also represent you in the courtroom if we cannot negotiate reduced or dismissed charges. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll review your case and help you understand your options. Let us put our experience to work for you.