What do we normally expect to happen at a traffic stop?
Maybe the police will give a warning for a broken taillight. Or write a speeding ticket. In more serious cases, they might make a DWI arrest.
There are times, however, when a traffic stop can result in something unexpected. Like the police finding drugs. Or stolen property. Or even the victim of a kidnapping.
One thing you rarely ever hear of, though, is someone getting stopped and ending up arrested for identity theft… because the police found evidence of that theft in the vehicle. Over the past couple of months, this type of arrest has happened not once, but twice in Texas.
These cases are a reminder that the holiday season is not only a busy time for identity theft, but also a time when police are working hard to detect it.
In this post, we’re going to detail what happened in the above-mentioned cases before covering Texas’s identity theft laws and penalties.
Recent Cases of Identity Theft in Texas
Three men were taken into police custody in Wichita County on counts of money laundering and fraudulent use/possession of identifying information. Upon searching their vehicle, law enforcement officials found over $75,000 in cash. They also discovered gift cards not listed under the three men’ names and flash drives that contained sensitive personal and financial information about hundreds of individuals.
The Amarillo Police Department is currently conducting an investigation of the three men that may link them to several identity theft cases in Amarillo.
In another case, police arrested two men in Lampasas when they found a credit card skimmer and stolen credit and debit cards after a traffic stop. The men are now facing charges of fraudulent use/possession of identifying information. The police are also retaining the vehicle for possible seizure and forfeiture since the vehicle may have been used to commit the alleged offenses.
Identity Theft Laws in Texas
Texas laws are tough on those convicted on identity theft charges. A charge of identity theft happens when an individual unlawfully uses another individual’s personal or financial information to obtain anything of value. There are two types of identity theft charges in Texas, outlined below.
Fradulent Use/Possession of Identifying Information
This charge applies if an individual possesses, obtains, uses, or transfers another individual’s identifying information without his or her consent with the intent to defraud or harm.
Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information can be a state jail felony, third degree felony, second degree felony, or first degree felony, depending on the amount of information possessed by the defendant.
Any type of information that identifies an individual is included in the identifying information description. Examples include the following:
- Birth date
- Bank account numbers
- Social Security number
- Government issued ID
- Electronic identification number
If you have been accused of fraudulent use/possession of identifying information in Texas, it’s essential to reach out to an experienced Texas criminal attorney as soon as charges are filed against you.
Unauthorized Acquisition or Transfer of Certain Financial Information
This charge applies when an individual acts without authority to obtain payment card or financial sight order information with the use of a recording, photographic, or electronic device, or if they transfer this information to others.
Penalties for Identity Theft in Texas
You can expect to face stiff penalties if you are convicted on any of these charges. Depending on the level of the charge, you could face a lengthy prison sentence. Identity theft convictions also require payment of significant fines as well as probation sentencing. You will also be required to pay restitution to the victims.
Since a conviction can have a negative impact on your quality of life, it’s important that you work with a dependable criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can help you avoid long-term consequences like these penalties, and possibly get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether