What makes identity theft 'aggravated?'

Identity theft has been around since the days where people would steal checking account statements out of a mailbox or someone's driver's license or credit card. The victim could suffer financial damage, not to mention significant inconvenience, to be sure. However, with so much of our business and personal activity now done online, the potential loss, and therefore the penalties, are much greater.

While identity theft is a federal crime, it's also a state crime. Here in Oregon, a conviction for identity theft is an automatic Class C felony. It carries a "presumptive sentence" of 13 months in prison. However, that sentence can be longer for those who have previous identity theft convictions. It may also be extended if credit card fraud, forgery or a computer crime was involved.

Under Oregon law, there's also a charge called aggravated identity theft. This charge can be leveled if someone:

-- Was previously convicted of aggravated identity theft

-- Committed identity theft at least 10 times within 180 days

-- Has at least 10 pieces of personal identification belonging to 10 or more individuals in his or her possession

-- Has caused a loss of at least $10,000 to one or more victims within 180 days

It should be noted that the age-old practice of minors using someone else's ID or creating a fake ID to by alcohol or cigarettes doesn't fall under Oregon's identity theft statutes. That doesn't mean that these actions don't carry consequences, however. Misrepresenting one's age is a Class C misdemeanor. It can also leave you with a suspended driver's license.

If you're facing identity theft charges, it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance to help ensure that your side of the case is accurately and vigorously presented in court.

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