Identity Theft Laws

Identity theft is detailed in 18 U.S.C § 1028, the federal law that addresses this crime. Our objective here is to explain the implications of this law, compare it to Arizona state law on the same issue, and explore how a federal criminal defense attorney from the Kolsrud Law Office can help someone defend against an identity theft charge.

Get In Touch With Us Now - We're Here To Help!

Understanding Identity Theft Under 18 U.S.C § 1028

Identity theft is addressed under 18 U.S.C § 1028. It's a common misconception that identity theft only entails stealing someone's financial information. In reality, the scope is much broader. According to federal law, identity theft involves knowingly transferring, possessing, or using, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit or to aid or abet any unlawful activity.


From stealing personal information to taking over someone's financial accounts or even creating new accounts in the victim's name, identity theft is a multifaceted crime, and those found guilty face harsh penalties.

identity theft

Arizona Revised Statutes and Identity Theft

Things become slightly different when we shift our focus to Arizona state law. While federal law is designed to prosecute large-scale, interstate cases of identity theft, Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 13-2008 specifically addresses identity theft committed within the state.


In Arizona, it is unlawful to take the name, birth date, social security number, or other unique identifying information of another person without their consent, with the intent to obtain or use their identity for any unlawful purpose. The law also outlines penalties for identity theft, including taking another's identity to obtain employment, which is not often covered under federal laws.

The Consequences of Identity Theft Under Federal and Arizona Law

The penalties for identity theft are severe and are meant to deter potential offenders. Navigating the maze of penalties associated with identity theft can be daunting, given their varying severity and the circumstances under which they apply.


Below, we break down the potential repercussions for different scenarios of federal identity theft convictions:


  • For individuals found guilty of federal identity theft related to the creation, transfer, or counterfeit of identification, or if the defendant owned equipment for forging documents or deceitfully obtained goods or currency worth up to $1,000, the repercussions could entail a maximum of 15 years in federal prison and substantial financial penalties.

  • If the conviction involves federal identity theft aimed at facilitating drug trafficking, or it's associated with a violent offense, or if there's a previous identity theft conviction on record, the offender could face up to 20 years in a federal penitentiary.

  • In instances where identity theft is linked with aiding or executing domestic or international acts of terror, the offender could face up to 30 years of imprisonment.

On the other hand, under Arizona state law (A.R.S. § 13-2008), identity theft is categorized as a Class 4 felony. If you're a first-time offender charged with a non-dangerous crime, you're looking at a standard sentence of 2.5 years behind bars, although this can decrease to a minimum of 1.5 years or increase to a maximum of 3 years.


Under certain circumstances, the sentence could be lengthened to 3.75 years or shortened to a single year of imprisonment.


Upon conviction under A.R.S. 13-2008, one might face a probation period lasting between 1 year to 10 years. 

Comparing and Contrasting Federal and State Identity Theft Laws

Although federal and state laws seek to deter and punish identity theft, there are differences between the two. For instance, federal law is more likely to be invoked in cases involving large-scale identity theft operations and interstate criminal activities. In contrast, state law applies to offenses occurring within its borders.


Moreover, while both sets of laws lay out severe penalties for identity theft, the specifics of these penalties differ. 

identity theft

The Role of a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney When Charged with Identity Theft

If you find yourself accused of identity theft, seeking immediate legal help is essential.


From the moment you're charged, your defense attorney is your advocate. They represent you during interrogations, ensuring your rights are not violated. In the pretrial stage, they examine the prosecution's evidence, identify weaknesses, and file motions to exclude any illegally obtained evidence.


During the trial, they cross-examine prosecution witnesses, present evidence to challenge the prosecution's case and strive to create reasonable doubt in the jury's minds. If the case doesn't go as planned, your attorney will represent you during sentencing and can help file an appeal if appropriate.

Facing an Identity Theft Charge Can Be Overwhelming, but Remember, You are not Alone.

A skilled federal criminal defense attorney is here to help in these trying times, protecting your rights, arguing on your behalf, and guiding you through the complex legal process.


Ultimately, understanding the intricacies of identity theft laws can be confusing. But with expert legal representation and a solid understanding of federal and Arizona state laws, you will be well-prepared to navigate these challenging circumstances.


Contact the Kolsrud Law Office today for a free consultation to begin building your defense. 

Contact us today to schedule
A FREE CONSULTANT and learn more
about how we can help you.

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

Get a Free Initial Consultation:

Please complete our form below to get a free initial consultation
or call us at (480) 999-9444.