December 1, 2022
A recent national report identified that Colorado is second in the nation for identity theft. This alarming statistic means that local law enforcement will like be even more on the lookout for identity theft than before. Although this is largely a good thing for Coloradans, it also means that some law enforcement officials and prosecutors will likely be overzealous.
It is therefore important to understand what constitutes identity theft and what you’re up against if you’re facing those charges. Below, we’re going to cover the laws surrounding identity theft, common types of identity theft, and how to fight back if you face identity theft charges.
How Colorado Law Defines Identity Theft
Colorado law defines identity theft as one of the following actions:
- Knowingly using or possessing another person’s personal or financial identifying information without that person’s consent to obtain anything of value, or to allow another party to obtain anything of value.
- Falsely making a written instrument or financial device containing the identifying information of another person with the intent to defraud.
- Knowingly using or possessing another person’s personal or financial identifying information to apply for a line of credit.
- Knowingly using another person’s personal identifying information to obtain a government issued document.
In order to convict a defendant of identity theft, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly used or possessed the information for the purpose or intent to defraud.
Types of Identity Theft in Colorado
There are many types of identity theft, and the list is ever-expanding as people develop new ways to obtain and use identifying information.
The following types of identity theft are common in Colorado:
- Financial Identity Theft: Any form of identity theft that accesses the victim’s personal financial resources or credit.
- Medical Identity Theft: Using another person’s personal identifying information to obtain medical services, insurance, prescriptions, or any other medical treatment.
- Employment/Benefits Identity Theft: Using another person’s social security number to procure employment, to claim benefits, or to apply for unemployment.
- Criminal Identity Theft: Giving another person’s identifying information when arrested for or charged with a crime.
- Child Identity Theft: Theft of a minor child’s identifying information.
- At-Risk Adult Identity Theft: Theft of an older adult or disabled person’s identifying information.
- Domestic Violence/Stalking Identity Theft: Identity theft that is committed as a component of domestic violence or stalking. Generally, the perpetrator does this to control or intimidate the victim.
- Tax-Related Identity Theft: Using another person’s information to file fraudulent tax returns and obtain tax refunds.
- Business Identity Theft: Theft of a business’s information or name by changing listings with the Secretary of State. This offense is generally committed for the purpose of obtaining credit, selling the business, or committing computer crimes such as setting up fraudulent websites that collect personal information and payments from the business’s customers.
Colorado Identity Theft Sentencing and Penalties
Colorado identity theft is a Class 4 Felony, and is punishable by 2-6 years of incarceration and $2,000-$500,000 in fines.
There are also substantial civil consequences for identity theft. The victim is allowed to recover damages from the offense which are equivalent to the amount of money stolen and up to $10,000 in addition. The court may also force the defendant to pay attorney fees and other litigation costs stemming from a civil suit.
However, being charged with identity theft does not mean that you will be convicted. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there are a number of defense strategies available that may be able to help your case.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.