Identity theft occurs when someone pretends to be someone else in order to illegally obtain goods, services, or anything else of value. Every state, including Ohio, has made identity theft a crime.
You can read Identity Theft Law for more information about this crime.
In Ohio, identity theft is called identity fraud. People commit identity fraud when they use, possess, or obtain another person’s personal identifying information without that person’s consent in order to hold themselves out as the other person. It’s also identity fraud when someone creates, uses, obtains, or possesses someone else’s personal information with the intent to aid and abet someone in committing identity fraud; or to permit someone else to use your own information to do so. Identity fraud is a felony offense.
(Ohio Revised Code Annotated section 2913.49)
The Ohio identity fraud law defines “personal identifying information” as any information that can be used to identify someone, including a person’s name, telephone number, address, driver’s license, credit card number, personal passwords, and other types of information.
Identity Fraud Against a Disabled or Elderly Adult
When the victim of identity fraud is a disabled adult or an elderly person, Ohio law imposes higher penalties. An elderly person is defined as anyone age 65 or older, while a disabled adult is anyone age 18 or older who has a mind or body impairment that prevents the person from working or who has been certified as a disabled person by a government agency.
(Ohio Revised Code Annotated section 2913.49(3))
Identity fraud is a felony offense in Ohio. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, an identity fraud crime can be anything from a first to a fifth-degree felony offense with first-degree felonies the most serious and fifth-degree the least serious.
- Fifth-degree felony. Someone convicted of a fifth-degree felony in Ohio faces between 6 to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. Identity fraud that does not result in a victim suffering a financial loss is punished as a fifth-degree felony.
- Fourth-degree felony. A fourth-degree felony is punishable by between six and 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. If the identity fraud results in the victim suffering a financial loss, but that loss is less than $7,500, it’s a fourth-degree felony offense.
- Third-degree felony. If the victims of the identity fraud lost between $7,500 but less than $150,000, identity theft is a third-degree felony. However, if the victim was a disabled adult or elderly person and lost less than $7,500, it’s also a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by between nine months and five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Second-degree felony. If the identity theft resulted in more than $150,000 in losses to victims, the crime is a second-degree felony offense. It is also a second-degree felony when the identity theft victim is an elderly person or disabled adult who lost between $7,500 and $150,000. Second-degree felonies are punishable by between two and eight years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
- First-degree felony. If the victim lost more than $150,000 and is a disabled adult or elderly person, the identity theft is a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies are punishable by 3 to 11 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
- Probation. In some identity fraud cases, it’s possible for a court to sentence someone to probation. Anyone on probation must comply with numerous court restrictions and conditions, such as paying all fines and restitution, not leaving the jurisdiction until receiving permission from a probation officer, regularly meeting with that officer, maintaining employment, and not committing other crimes.
- Restitution. If a victim suffered a financial loss because of the identity theft, the person convicted of a crime will also have to pay restitution. Restitution amounts differ depending on how much the victims lost.
Speak to an Ohio Attorney
If you’re accused of an identity fraud crime in Ohio you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible. You never want to speak with investigators or make a decision about your case until you have received legal advice from a local attorney who has represented clients in area courtrooms. You should never rely on advice you receive from friends or others who are not experienced criminal defense lawyers.