What Is Aggravated Identity Theft Under Federal Law?

Identity theft occurs when someone obtains and/or uses the personal identifying information of another. In 1998, the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act was passed making such conduct its own separate offense. Section 1028 of Title 18 of the United States Code provides that it's unlawful for someone to knowingly transfer or use another's identification information with the intent to commit a federal crime or state or local felony. Previously, the government had to prove that the alleged victim suffered a financial loss due to their information being stolen. Additionally, the Act imposed increased penalties upon anyone convicted of the offense – it carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

Six years after the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act was enacted, Congress passed a second law concerning identity theft. Referred to as aggravated identity theft, the statute enumerates various instances in which taking and/or using someone else's identifying information is considered a more severe offense. The law also imposes mandatory sentences on anyone convicted of an aggravated identity theft offense. Additionally, the court may not place the convicted person on probation instead of imprisonment, and, in some circumstances, cannot allow their sentence run concurrently with that of any other term imposed upon them.

Aggravated Identity Theft and Other Felony Offenses

Under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(1), one way a person may be charged with aggravated identity theft is by using the identification information of another in relation to certain felony offenses.

The crimes that can trigger an aggravated identity theft charge include:

  • Theft of public money, property, or rewards;
  • Theft, embezzlement, or misapplication by bank employee;
  • Theft from employee benefit programs;
  • False personation of citizenship;
  • False statements to obtain a firearm;
  • Fraud and false statements related to identity theft;
  • Mail, bank, or wire fraud;
  • Nationality and citizenship offenses;
  • Passports and visas offenses;
  • Obtaining customer information through false pretenses;
  • Unlawfully remaining in the U.S. with a counterfeit alien registration card; and
  • Immigration offenses

If a person commits identity theft to further any of the offenses listed above, they may face a mandatory 2-year prison sentence.

Aggravated Identity Theft and Acts of Terrorism

If someone transfers or uses the personal identification information of another during or in relation to an act of terrorism, they may be charged with aggravated identity theft. The terroristic act must be such that it will disrupt or affect the federal government.

The intended offense must be a federal crime of terrorism, such as:

  • Destroying an aircraft;
  • Committing violence at international airports;
  • Setting fire to or bombing property used for interstate commerce;
  • Bombing public structures or places; or
  • Financing terrorism

A person convicted of aggravated identity theft in relation to federal terrorism may be punished by a mandatory term of imprisonment of 5 years.

If you've been charged with a federal crime, our Cleveland lawyers are here to protect your rights, freedom, and future. Schedule a consultation with Patituce & Associates by calling us at (440) 709-8088 or submitting an online contact form today.