In this digital era, instances of identity theft are on the rise. Just last month in Goshen, Texas, a significant identify theft was uncovered. The case includes around $74,000 in false tax returns with several suspects. So far, police have arrested Olga Navarro-Garcia, 31 years of age, her husband Manuel Ramirez-Jimenez, and his brother Joaquin Ramirez-Jimenez. The named suspects filed up to $74,000 in fraudulent tax returns by using multiple names. Investigators are searching for additional suspects and victims involved. Investigators found that Navarro-Garcia has allegedly used the identity of a 42-year old female for purposes of employment since 2005. Said female’s identity was recently used again by Navarro-Garcia for purposes of purchasing a vehicle. Manuel Ramirez-Jimenez obtained around $12,000 from a federal income tax refund filed under the name of a Edinburg man.
What is Identity Theft?
Per Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 32, Section 32.51, identify theft is a crime that occurs when a person obtains, possesses, or uses another person’s identity with the specific intent to harm or defraud someone. In regards to the person whose identity is stolen, it does not matter if they are alive or dead and it does not matter if they are a minor or an adult. Texas law actually presumes that the suspect had the intent to harm or defraud another person if he or she used the identity information of three or more individuals, whether or not they were are alive.
If you are facing charges of identity theft, please be advised that there are several defenses to this particular charge. In Texas, as in other states, mistake of fact is a defense to the crime. For instance, it is a defense that Defendant did not actually possess, obtain or use another person’s identity. Age is another powerful defense In Texas, minors typically receive lighter punishments if they are convicted of identity theft. Additionally, lack of the intent to harm or deceive another individual is a third defense. Again, identity theft is a specific intent crime where the act must be accompanied with the specific intent to harm or deceive a person.
Penalties of Identity Theft
In short, identity theft is a felony. The degree of punishment for the crime ultimately depends on the amount of items obtained, transferred or possessed by the defendant by using the victim’s identity. If, for instance, the number of items is fewer than five, defendant may serve time in state jail with a sentence of 180 days to up to two years in a state prison, and/or defendant may be ordered to pay a fine to exceed $10,000. If defendant is convicted of possessing or obtaining between five and nine items, this is a felony in the third degree with a sentence between two to 10 years in state prison and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000. If defendant is convicted of obtaining or possessing between 10 and 49 items, the particular penalty is a felony in the second degree with a sentence between two to 20 years in state prison and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000. Lastly, if defendant is convicted of obtaining or possessing more than 50 items, this is a felony in the first degree. In Texas, this carries a sentence between five and 29 years in a state prison and/or a sentence not to exceed $10,000.
Take Action and Hire an Attorney for Your Case
If you are charged with a theft crime, such as identity theft, contact the Wheeler Law Office. Alan Wheeler, the lead attorney, has experience as a former prosecutor and has knowledge of the tactics the District Attorney’s office uses to get convictions. We use this knowledge to aggressively defend clients facing theft charges. These charges are serious and include significant fines and possible jail time. They can remain permanently on your record and damage your reputation. Contact our experienced Denton theft attorney right away for a FREE consultation.