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Identity Theft Law & Defense
PC 530.5 Crimes

Identity theft is one the fastest growing crimes in America. To curb the growing number of Identity theft crimes, law enforcement agencies and law makers have created new and harsher penalties for all identity theft crimes. In California, these news laws are found at penal code section 530.5.

For a prosecutor to prove that a defendant is guilty of identity theft, also called unauthorized use of personal identifying information, the prosecutor must prove all of the following:

  • Defendant willfully obtained someone else's personal identifying information,

  • The defendant willfully used that information for unlawful purpose, and

  • The defendant used the information without the consent of the person whose identifying was stolen.

The list of what can be considered personal identifying information includes: a person's name, address, telephone number, health insurance number, taxpayer identification number, school identification number, state or federal driver’s license, or identification number, social security number, place of employment, employee identification number, professional or occupational number, mother’s maiden name, deposit account number, savings account number, checking account number, PIN (personal identification number) or password, information contained in a birth or death certificate, or credit card number of an individual person, or an equivalent form of identification (PC 530.55(b) Abbrev.).


In addition, the victim of identity theft does not have to actually be a human being. Corporations, businesses, firms, associations, and public entities may also be considered a person for purposes of identity theft law (PC 530.55(a) Abbrev.).

Note: It is not necessary that the defendant actually received a financial benefit or that anyone was actually harmed by the defendant's identity theft (such as the case of a deceased person). In fact, the entire crime of identity theft is complete if the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that all three of the above elements are true.

Sentence PC 530.5

The most common identity theft charge is PC 530.5(a), the elements of which are discussed above. PC 530.5(a) can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. felony, depending on the circumstances.

Jail: If found guilty of the charge of identity theft as a misdemeanor, the defendant could be sentenced up to one year in county jail. If the defendant is found guilty of felony identity theft, the defendant could be sentenced up to three years in jail.

Probation: A probation sentence is a period in which the court or a probation officer monitors the defendant (as opposed to a jail sentence). Probation sentences are allowed in PC 530.5 cases, but hey are not guaranteed. Sometimes, a probation sentence will include an order for community served or house arrest to be completed as a condition of receiving probation. Whether or not the defendant will be granted a probation sentence depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history (among other factors).

PC 1170(h): If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence in any identity theft case , he or her may nevertheless be allowed to serve his or her incarceration in a local county jail (as opposed to a state prison). In addition, jail sentences for PC 530.5(a) may be slit or suspended.

Three Strikes Law: PC 530.5(a) is not considered a strike under California's Strikes Law.

CIMT: Immigration and professional licensing consequences. PC 530.5 crimes are considered crimes of moral turpitude, which means that identity theft is considered to be morally wrong or involve deceit. Crimes of moral turpitude carry severe negative consequences for non U.S. citizens and for defendants who have a professional or occupation license. Non United States citizens may be deported and licensed professionals may lose their professional license upon, or even before, any conviction for an identity theft crime.

In addition to any jail term, if found guilty of identity theft the defendant could also face probation, fines, lawsuits from the person whose identity was stolen, restitution, denial of entry into the armed services, and more.

PC 530.5 Defenses

Common defenses to identity theft charges include: Consent to use the other person's identity (most commonly associated with elder theft), insufficient evidence to prove that the identification was not used for an unlawful purpose, mistake of fact, duress, intoxication, insanity, statute of limitations, and more.

If you or a loved one has been charged with identity theft, aka unauthorized use of personal identifying information, or penal code section 530.5(a), contact our criminal defense attorneys today. Our criminal lawyers have successfully defended against hundreds of misdemeanor and felony charges. We are available every day to answer all of your questions. Call today!


  • Crimes related to identity theft PC 530.5(a)

  • Identity theft with prior conviction PC 530.5(c)(2)

  • Identity theft of more than 10 people PC 530.5(c)(3)

  • Selling information for identity theft PC 530.5.(d)(2)

  • Unauthorized use of personal information PC 530.5(a)

Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Identity Theft - Unlawful Use of Personal Info

Code: PC 530.5(a) (CalCrim No. 2040 & 2041)

Wobbler: Yes. PC 530.5(a) is a wobbler crime. This means that the crime may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Incarceration:Felony PC 530.5(a) jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years jail. Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation may be available in both felony and misdemeanor PC 530.5(a) cases (assuming that other crimes or enhancements that might bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 530.5(a) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:

  • Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)

  • Suspended (possibly never served)

  • Served in county jail (not state prison)

  • Note: Limitations may apply

Strike: PC 530.5(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 530.5(a) is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:

  • Immigration problems

  • Professional Licensing problems

  • Impeachment on credibility


Firearms: Felony PC 530.5(a) convictions prohibit defendant from owning or possessing a firearm. 

Bail: $25,000 (San Bernardino County)

Identity Theft PC 530.5 530.5(a) Unlawful Use of Personal Identification Criminal defense lawyer attorney sentence punishment penalty jail prison misdemeanor felony Redlands Yucaipa san Bernardino rialto colton fontana rancho Cucamonga Ontario Victorville highland Hesperia loma linda se habla espanol Spanish abogado hs California ca crime penal code


Hesperia, Rancho Cucamonga, Highland, Chino, Upland, Victorville, Redlands, Fontana, San Bernardino, Rialto, Ontario, Loma Linda, Colton, Yucaipa

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