It’s illegal in Tennessee, as well as all other states, to use someone else’s personal information to obtain a benefit without that person’s permission for any illegal purposes. Tennessee has several laws that criminalize different types of identity theft behavior.
For more information about identity theft laws in general, read Identity Theft Law.
Anyone in Tennessee who knowingly obtains, purchases, possesses, or uses another person’s personal identifying information with the intent to commit an unlawful act, without the consent of the owner, or who doesn’t have a lawful purpose to use or possess such information, commits the crime of identity theft. Identity theft is a Class D felony offense.
Personal information includes someone’s credit or debit card number, biometric data, health insurance identification information, personal identification number, Social Security number, driver’s license, and other types of information.
(Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-14-150(b)(1))
Identity Theft Trafficking
Those who knowingly sell, transfer, give, loan, trade, or deliver another person’s personal identifying information, or possess such information with the intent to do any of those things, commits the crime of identity theft trafficking when they do so:
- with the intent to allow someone else to commit an unlawful act
- under circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to know or should know that the personal identification would be used to commit an unlawful act
- without the consent of the person identified in the personal information, and
- without lawful authority to deal in such information.
Identity theft trafficking is a Class C felony offense.
(Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-14-150(c)(1))
It’s also a crime in Tennessee to impersonate someone with the intent to injure or defraud another person. Anyone who assumes a false identity, pretends to represent another person or organization, pretends to be a government official, or who pretends to have a disability, in order to defraud or injure someone else, commits the crime of criminal impersonation. Committing criminal impersonation is a Class B misdemeanor offense unless a person pretends to be a law enforcement officer, in which it is a Class A misdemeanor offense.
(Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-16-301)
Using a False Identification
Using false identification in an attempt to obtain goods, services, or privileges when not otherwise entitled to so is also a crime in Tennessee. Using false identification is a Class C misdemeanor.
(Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-16-303)
Being convicted of one or more identity theft related crimes in Tennessee can lead to substantial prison time or monetary fines, as well as other potential punishments. The specific penalty a court imposes will differ depending on the circumstances of each case.
For a more detailed explanation of Tennessee’s criminal sentencing laws, read Tennessee Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences, and Tennessee Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
- Jail or Prison. A Class C felony conviction for an identity theft crime can lead to a 3 to 15 year prison sentence, while a Class D felony conviction can lead to between two and 12 years in prison. A Class A misdemeanor conviction can lead to up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, while a Class C misdemeanor can result in up to 30 days in jail.
- Fines. A conviction for Class C felony can result in up to $10,000 in fines, while a Class D felony conviction can result in fines of up to $5,000. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $50, while a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500.
- Probation. Courts can also sentence someone convicted of identity theft to probation. If a court orders probation, the probationer will have to obey numerous rules or conditions. Common probation conditions include reporting to a probation supervisory officer, regularly meeting with the officer, submitting to random drug tests, not committing other crimes, and paying all fines and restitution.
- Restitution. If a victim in a Tennessee identity theft case suffers a pecuniary loss, a court can order the person convicted to pay restitution in addition to any fines or court costs. The amount of restitution involved will differ depending on the facts of each case.
Find a Tennessee Lawyer
You should never make any decisions about your criminal case without first discussing your situation with an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney. Only an attorney in your area who has been in local courts can give you advice about your case and your legal options. Speaking to a defense attorney before you speak to investigators or the police is essential if you want to protect your rights throughout the criminal justice process.