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Identity Theft Laws (PC 530.5) in California

California Penal Code 530.5(a): Unauthorized Use of Personal Identifying Information

Legal Definition: Identity Theft is generally known as the taking of another person’s money or credit through fraud; however, identity theft crimes are titled unauthorized use of personal identifying information because acquiring another person’s money or property is not actually an element of the charged offense. There are three important sections to discuss under PC 530.5

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 530.5(a) the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You willfully obtained someone else’s personal identifying information;
  2. You willfully used that information for any unlawful purpose; AND
  3. You used the information without the consent of the person whose identifying information you were using.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 530.5(c)(1)/(c)(2)/(c)(3) the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You acquired or kept the personal identifying information of another person/ten or more other persons; AND
  2. You did so with the intent to defraud another person.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 530.5(d)(1) the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You sold/transferred/conveyed the personal identifying information of another person; AND
  2. You did so with the intent to defraud.

What does this mean?

A person intends to defraud if he or she intends to deceive another person either to cause a loss of money/goods/services, or to cause damage to a legal, financial, or property right. It is not necessary that anyone actually is defrauded or actually suffer a financial, legal, or property loss as a result of the defendant’s acts. The sections above break down essentially the three ways in which you can be convicted for this charge: 1. Obtaining and using someone else’s information; 2. Obtaining someone else’s information; 3. Obtaining and selling someone’s information.

The first two are self-explanatory, but the third requires you essentially sell someone’s personal information to a third party. This could be someone who works at a bank, selling the account information to their friend, who intends to steal the account holder’s money.


Identity Theft is a wobbler crime. That means that it can be charged as a Felony or Misdemeanor offense, based on many factors including the amount of loss, the amount of information taken, and your background. If you are convicted of this charge as a Misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to County Jail for up to one year. If you are convicted of these charges as a Felony, you could be sentenced to upwards of 16 months, two or three years in State Prison. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence.

Also, a good amount of people who find themselves in this situation also face issues with Professional Licenses and Immigrationissues. A conviction under this section is considered a Crime of Moral Turpitude, so non-residents, nurses, or even doctors, could face license suspensions, and Immigrants would very likely face Deportation proceedings.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Mistake of Fact
  4. Violation of your Rights
  5. Duress

As Dwight Schrute says in The Office to the character Jim Halpert, “Identity Theft is not a joke Jim, millions of people suffer every year”. That quote, unfortunately, is true. However, it is a charge that is defensible. For example, say a person tells you, who works as a bank teller, to sell them information on their richest clients. If you told them, no, and they then threatened to murder you, holding a gun to your head; your action thereafter would be considered defensible using Duress. You did not intend to defraud any person, you were being forced to do so.

Other issues arise in terms of your intent to defraud, and whether it can be shown you stole someone’s item to defraud them, or if you innocently just found their information and were holding it, planning on returning it, not defrauding them.

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The perception of identity theft under PC 530.5 as an easy route to wealth is a dangerous misconception. Many fail to realize the long-term implications of such crimes, which can haunt you for life. It’s not just professionals and immigrants who suffer the consequences; imagine facing a job interview later in life, carrying the burden of a youthful mistake. A conviction for stealing credit card information or any related Elder Abuse allegation brands you as a dishonest individual in the eyes of potential employers.

You certainly don’t want the stigma of an identity theft conviction to shadow your entire life. What you need is a defense attorney who can challenge the elements of your case and safeguard your future. At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, our PC 530.5 Ontario criminal defense attorney is experienced in successfully defending a multitude of cases involving identity theft and other fraud and theft offenses. We understand the severity of these allegations and are committed to providing you with a robust defense.

Don’t let one mistake define your future. Take advantage of our free initial consultation and benefit from our 24/7 availability to address your concerns. For expert legal representation, contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario, CA, we are here to help you navigate through this challenging time and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely, Inland Empire Criminal Defense prioritizes your privacy and confidentiality. Every consultation with our attorney is conducted with the utmost discretion, ensuring your information remains secure and private.

Yes, understanding the financial pressures that can come with legal representation, our attorney offers flexible payment plans. This approach ensures that quality legal defense is accessible for all our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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