Understanding Colorado’s Identity Theft Laws
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Identity theft is a growing problem as more and more information is transmitted through digital technology. In 2014, there was a new identity fraud victim every 2 seconds. In other words, in the time it took you to read this far, there have probably been another five or six victims.
State governments have responded to the growing internet crime rate with harsh penalties for people accused of identity theft. And in some cases, they may even be prosecuted as federal crimes. Those convicted can face hundreds of thousands in fines and restitution, in addition to several years of prison or jail time.
Identity Theft Laws in Colorado
Crimes that fall under the umbrella term of identity theft vary widely in their complexity. In general, Colorado prosecutes identity theft as a Class 4 felony.
According to Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-5-902, identity theft occurs when any person in Colorado knowingly uses another person’s personal identifying information without their consent or legal authority.
The law considers it identity theft if you, without the consent of the victim:
- Obtain or try to obtain property or anything else of value using that person’s identity
- Possess personal identification documents or devices of that person without actually obtaining something of value
- Defraud, alter, or create a written instrument or financial device in their name
- Apply for credit or other type of financial device in that person’s name
- Obtain a government-issued document with their personal identifying information.
Criminal Possession of a Financial Device
Another identity theft-related charge is “criminal possession of a financial device.” A financial device refers to anything you use to make a payment. This includes things like credit cards, debit cards, or the identifying numbers of a bank account.
Anyone who possesses one of these devices and knows that it is stolen may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possessing two or more financial devices is a Class 6 felony. Possessing four or more devices when at least two of them are owned by two different people is a Class 5 felony.
Possession of Identity Theft Tools
Possessing the tools to commit identity theft is also a crime. Any person who has computers, printers, or any specialized tools with the intent of using those tools for identity theft can be charged with a Class 5 felony in Colorado.
Penalties for Identity Theft
Modern technology allows individuals to commit identity theft on a large scale, but it also means they can face multiple criminal charges and enormous fines, both from federal and state prosecution.
Usually, individuals found guilty of identity theft are forced to pay restitution to their victims on top of their criminal fines. The criminal fines alone can easily climb into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Each specific case has its own elements, and the punishments for identity theft will depend heavily on the circumstances surrounding the case. Those convicted of a class 6 felony might have to pay between $1,000 and $100,000 in fines, while someone convicted of a Class 5 felony faces up to $500,000 in fines.
Incarceration punishments will also vary widely. Those convicted of a Class 6 felony face between 1 year and 18 months in prison. A Class 5 felony, however, is punishable by 1 to 12 years in prison.
No matter what your specific charges are, if you are accused of identity theft, Colorado law will not go easy on you. Your best chance for a favorable outcome is to contact a criminal defense attorney with a track record of success in these types of cases.
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.