Illinois Identity Theft Statute
Identity theft is a term that often conjures images of stolen credit cards and hacked online accounts, but under Illinois law, it encompasses a much broader range of illicit activities. Specifically, 720 ILCS § 5/16-30 defines identity theft as the knowing:
- Use of any personal identifying information of another person, without consent, to fraudulently get credit, money, goods, services, or other property.
- Use of another person's personal identification information or document with the intent to commit any felony. Use can include obtaining, recording, possessing, selling, transferring, purchasing, or manufacturing another person's personal identification information or documents.
Under the Illinois identity theft statute, identity theft can also include:
- Acquiring, holding, using, selling, buying, creating, or transferring another individual's personal identification data or documents with the awareness that such information or documents were unlawfully obtained or made.
- Using, transferring, or possessing document-making tools that can create fake identification or documents, knowing they will be used by the person or another in the commission of a felony.
- Using another person's personal identification information or document to portray oneself as that person, or to gain access to any personal identification information or document of such person, without their prior express permission.
- Using another person's personal identification information or document to obtain entry to any record of actions executed, messages sent or received, or other activities or transactions carried out by such individual without their prior explicit consent.
- Providing the license number of a roofing or fire sprinkler contractor whom one does not intend to have perform said work while applying for a building permit.
This definition is intentionally wide-ranging to cover the various methods by which an individual's identity may be compromised, from the traditional theft of a social security number to more modern concerns like digital impersonation. Aggravated identity theft charges can be brought forward if a person commits identity theft:
- as a part of and/or in gang activity,
- against a person who is 60 years of age or older, or
- against a person with a disability.
How Long Can You Go to Jail for Identity Theft in Illinois?
A person convicted of identity theft involving the use of stolen information to obtain money, goods, etc. shall be sentenced as follows:
- Identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property not exceeding $300 in value is a Class 4 felony. However, if a person has previously been convicted of identity theft of less than $300, the charges can be enhanced to a Class 3 felony. The charges can also be enhanced to a Class 3 felony if a person victimizes an active duty service member and has been convicted of other theft charges, including armed robbery, aggravated home repair fraud, burglary, home invasion, home repair fraud, possession of burglary tools, residential burglary, robbery, or financial exploitation of a disabled or elderly person.
- Identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property not exceeding $300 victimizing an active duty member of the Armed or Reserved Services for a second or subsequent time is a Class 2 felony. A person can also face Class 2 felony charges if they victimize a service member in a first-time offense and have a previous conviction for another theft crime.
- Identity theft of goods, services, money, credit, or other property between $300 and $2,000 in value is a Class 3 felony. However, if the victim is an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Services, Reserve Forces, or the Illinois National Guard serving abroad, it escalates to a Class 2 felony.
- Identity theft of goods, services, money, credit, or other property between $2,000 and $10,000 in value is a Class 2 felony. However, you can face Class 1 felony charges if the victim is an active duty service member.
- Identity theft of goods, services, money, credit, or other property between $10,000 and $100,000 in value is a Class 1 felony. However, if the identity theft involves stealing items or money of this value and the victim is an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Services, Reserve Forces, or the Illinois National Guard serving overseas, it constitutes a Class X felony.
- Identity theft of credit, money, goods, services, or other property exceeding $100,000 in value is a Class X felony.
Identity theft involving an application for a building permit and the use of stolen identifying information for roofing or sprinkler contract work is guilty of a Class 4 felony. However, the penalties can be enhanced in the following instances:
- Cases where the victim is an active duty service member are Class 2 felonies.
- Cases where the person facing charges has previous convictions are Class 2 felonies.
- Cases where this is a second or subsequent offense involving an active duty service member are Class 1 felonies.
- Cases where a person is guilty of identity theft involving three or more people, within a 12-month period, are classified as Class 2 felonies.
- Cases where a person is guilty of identity theft involving three or more people in the Armed Services, U.S. Reserve Forces, or the Illinois National Guard are classified as Class 1 felonies.
- Cases where identity theft is used to buy materials used to make methamphetamines with the intent to manufacture the substance are classified as a Class 2 felony for first offenses and Class 1 felonies for all subsequent offenses.
- Cases where the identity stolen was a servicemember, and the identity theft was used to obtain methamphetamine manufacturing material is a Class 1 felony for first offenses and Class X felony for all subsequent offenses.
The penalties for aggravated identity theft are as follows:
- Cases involving theft of credit, money, services, goods, or other property valued at less than or equal to $300 is a Class 3 felony.
- Cases involving theft of credit, money, services, goods, or other property valued between $300 and $10,000 is a Class 2 felony.
- Cases involving theft of credit, money, services, goods, or other property valued between $10,000 and $100,000 is a Class 1 felony.
- Cases involving theft of credit, money, services, goods, or other property valued over $100,000 is a Class X felony.
Breakdown of Penalties for Felonies in IL
Felony convictions in Illinois carry a fine of up to $25,000. The prison time for felonies varies, and the range is as follows:
- Class X felonies are punishable by six to 30 years of imprisonment.
- Class 1 felonies are punishable by four to 15 years.
- Class 2 felonies are punishable by three to seven years.
- Class 3 felonies are punishable by two to five years.
- Class 4 felonies are punishable by one to three years.
Defenses Against Identity Theft Charges
If you are charged with identity theft, there are several potential defenses that could be used in your favor. One of the most common defenses is lack of intent. Under Illinois law, to be guilty of identity theft, you must have knowingly used another person's identifying information without their consent, with the intent to commit fraud. If you can prove that you didn't intend to defraud anyone or that you believed you had the person's permission to use their information, this could potentially be a strong defense.
Another possible defense is that you were authorized to use your accuser’s information. A key element of identity theft is that the alleged victim did not consent to your use of their personally identifying information. If you can prove that you were given explicit or implicit permission, that can be a strong defense against such charges.
However, it's important to note that there are certain defenses that Illinois courts will not allow. For instance, claiming ignorance of the victim's age is not a valid defense. Illinois law specifically provides enhanced penalties for identity theft committed against an elderly person (someone over 60 years old). If you're charged with this offense, you can't avoid these enhanced penalties by claiming you didn't know the victim's age.
It is also worth noting that claiming you didn't know your actions were illegal is not a valid defense either. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and courts will not accept this as a defense against identity theft charges.
Remember, each case is unique, and the defenses available will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. It's, therefore, critical to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you're facing identity theft charges in Illinois.
Experienced Defense Counsel
When facing white-collar criminal charges in the state of Illinois, such as identity theft, securing robust legal defense becomes paramount. Johnson Law Group is a distinguished law firm that offers comprehensive counsel and personalized defense strategies for those accused of such crimes. Our team of seasoned attorneys leverages our knowledge and understanding of the legal system to craft compelling defenses, meticulously examining every angle of your case.
At Johnson Law Group, we prioritize our clients' rights, diligently working towards achieving a favorable outcome. We take pride in our proven record of successfully representing clients in similar circumstances, demonstrating our commitment to offering quality legal services.
Our client-focused approach means we work closely with you every step of the way, ensuring you're informed and prepared throughout the legal process. With Johnson Law Group on your side, you gain the advantage of a dedicated team advocating to protect your rights and freedom.
Request a case consultation by calling (309) 565-8825.