Identity theft in Virginia is a serious criminal offense and a crime of moral turpitude. Virginia Code § 18.2-186.3 makes it a crime for any person, without the permission of the person who is the subject of the identifying information, to do any of the following things with the intent to commit fraud, or with the intent to sell or distribute such information:
- Obtain, record, or access identifying information that is not available to the general public that would help in accessing financial resources, obtaining identifying documents, or obtaining benefits (e.g., a social security number);
- Obtain money, credit, loans, or goods or services by using another person’s identifying information;
- Obtain identification documents in someone else’s name; or
- Obtain, record, or access identifying information by impersonating a law enforcement officer or a government official.
This statute also makes it a crime to use identification documents or identifying information of another person, whether that person is dead or alive, or to use fictitious identifying information, to avoid a summons, arrest, prosecution, or to impede a criminal investigation.
Identifying information includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number
- Bank account numbers
- PIN numbers
- Passwords, or
- Any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person's financial resources.
Punishment for Identity Fraud in Virginia
Identity fraud is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If the financial loss caused by the identity fraud is $500 or more, then it is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison. In addition, a violation of this law with the intent to sell or distribute the identifying information where there are five or more victims in the same transaction or occurrence is punishable is a Class 5 felony, which is punishable by one to ten years in prison. If the number of victims is 50 more, it is a Class 4 felony punishable by two to ten years in prison.
Virginia law also applies a harsher penalty to identity theft that causes the person whose identifying information was used to avoid arrest or prosecution to be arrested, making it a Class 5 felony with a penalty range of one to ten years.
In addition to any jail or prison sentence and fines imposed, the court must also order that restitution be paid to the individual(s) whose identifying information was stolen or misused.
If you are facing an identity theft charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can carefully review the evidence, advise you on your options, and work towards obtaining the best possible resolution.