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If you are facing an identity theft charge in court, it’s important to seek legal counsel and be aware of the consequences and your options. Identity theft is defined as taking personal information from another individual without his or her consent for financial gain or otherwise. The following can be charged as identity theft:

  • Changing your billing information for illegal use.
  • Stealing information out of trash, recycling receptacles, and dumpsters.
  • Stealing objects, like wallets or bags, to obtain driver’s licenses or credit cards.
  • Using a database or other illegal software to obtain credit card or personal information.
  • Posing as a reputable business or government employee to obtain bank account information, personal details, or usernames and passwords.
  • Stealing biometric information, such as fingerprints, voiceprints, or other identifying characteristics.

It takes a skilled attorney with comprehensive knowledge of identity theft law to successfully defend a client from these serious charges. Start discussing your legal options with experienced Houston identify theft lawyer Samuel M. Gardner Attorney today. Call (713) 489-2358 to arrange an appointment.

Penalties for Identity Theft

Identity theft is a felony. Your charge will be based on the quantity of illegal documents and fraudulent material obtained and the extent of the damage. These are the different identity theft rankings listed in increasing quantity of fraudulent items.

  • Less than five. This is a state jail felony. The maximum punishment is 2 years in jail, a fine of $10,000, or both.
  • Five to nine items is a third-degree felony with a maximum 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Between ten and forty-nine items is considered a second-degree felony, punishable up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine.
  • Fifty or more fraudulent items will result in a first-degree felony charge. The maximum sentence is 99 years and/or $10,000.

In cases involving relatively minor infractions, typically applied to state jail felonies, the judge may sentence a first time offender to probation instead of jail. Probation usually requires rehabilitation classes, restitution payment plans, paying legal fees for victims, and an agreement to halt all criminal activity.

Some judges may sentence defendants to county instead of state jail. County jailhouses will often lessen incarceration time for good behavior. If the defendant enters into a plea agreement, the defense attorney might be able to negotiate for a county jail. The type of incarceration may change, but the defendant will still have a felony on his or her permanent record.


Sometimes, the prosecution makes a mistake and the defendant never accessed incriminating documents. This defense is called a mistake of fact. If the defendant has a lack of intent to defraud the other party, the prosecution may have a challenging time obtaining a conviction. If the case involves a close family member or the defendant doesn’t stand to gain anything from the crime, intent can be challenging to prove.

While identity theft cases are charged as felonies, a skilled defense lawyer can negotiate the charges down to a misdemeanor. The prosecution will need to prove every charge made against the defendant, which often involves massive, confusing paper trails. If the defense can instill reasonable doubt into the jury, your defense has a good chance at resulting in an acquittal.

Contact Samuel M. Gardner Attorney at Law to arrange a free consultation with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Houston.


Take a look at our results.
  • Dismissed Accused of Assault Bodily Injury
  • Dismissed Accused of Assault Bodily Injury / Injury to Public Servant
  • Jury Trial / Not Guilty Accused of Assault Family Member
  • Jury Trial / Mistrial / Dismissed Accused of Assault Family Member
  • Dismissed Accused of Assault Family Member
  • Jury Trial / Not Guilty Accused of Evading Arrest
  • Jury Trial / Not Guilty Accused of Felony Evading Arrest
  • Dismissed Accused of Forgery Government Financial Instrument
  • Dismissed Accused of Injury to Elderly
  • Dismissed Accused of Possession of a Controlled Substance 28-200g

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