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Virginia Court Discusses the Crime of Identify Theft in Recent Appellate Opinion

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2020 | Larceny, Virginia Case Law

When most people think of identity theft, they picture someone using another’s information to withdraw money or make a purchase. However, earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Virginia identify theft case discussing whether someone can be found guilty of identity theft if they use their own identifying information to obtain money. Ultimately, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, concluding that there is no statutory requirement that a person charged with identity theft use another’s identifying information.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant went to a bank and presented the bank teller with a check that was written to the defendant. The defendant gave the bank teller her own identification and asked to cash the check. The bank teller wrote the defendant’s driver’s license number on the back of the check, but suspected something was awry, as the writing on the check was not uniform. The teller called the account holder, who gave the phone to a police officer who was currently at her home investigating a burglary. As it turns out, the checks were in the process of being reported stolen. As the teller was on the phone, the defendant left the bank.

The defendant was charged with several crimes, including identify theft. The defendant admitted to possessing the check and trying to cash it. However, the defendant claimed that the check was given to her for payment for a television she sold to a woman named “Sug.” The defendant testified that she accepted the check, not knowing the woman’s real name because she needed the money. She also explained that she left the bank because she was scared. The account holder testified that she never gave anyone that check, and that signature on the check was not hers.

The court began its analysis by citing the relevant portion of the Virginia identity theft statute, which provides that it is illegal “for any person, without the authorization or permission [and] with the intent to defraud, for his own use or the use of a third person, to … Obtain money, credit, loans, goods, or services through the use of identifying information of such other person.”

The court acknowledged that the defendant did not attempt to pass herself off as the account holder to the bank teller, as the defendant provided her own identification. However, the court held that the defendant did “use” the account holder’s identifying information (her name and bank account number) to attempt to cash the check. This, the court held, was sufficient to establish the crime of identity theft under the terms of the statute.

Have You Been Arrested for a Virginia Theft Crime?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with any Virginia theft crime, the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Robison Law, PLLC, can help. At Robinson Law, our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys works tirelessly to defend the rights of our clients. We have decades of collective experience that we put into each case, seeking to obtain the best possible outcomes for our clients facing serious felony offenses. To learn more, call 703-542-3616 to schedule a free consultation today.