Since any crime can conceivably be committed with the help of computers, the scope of this article will center on some key computer crimes. One of those is identity theft. But just to make the point clear, a computer does not need to be used to commit this crime. To commit identity theft, one must willfully obtain someone else’s personal identifying information and use that information for an unlawful purpose without the consent of the other person. (Penal Code §530.5).

This can be accomplished through hacking into a system one does not have authority to access, physically stealing information from a place they are not allowed to be in, or obtaining the information from a third party. Identity theft can be filed in California as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a felony, you may be punished of up to anywhere between three (3) years in prison or up to one (1) year in local jail. If a misdemeanor, the punishment can be up to one year in jail.

Fraudulent Possession of Identifying Information

Similar to identity theft, one can commit this charge by simple having the information. To be charged with this offense, one must acquire or keep the personal identifying information of someone else with the intent to defraud someone else. If charged as a misdemeanor, the offense can result in up to one year in jail. If previously convicted for a similar charge, you may be charged with a felony and sentenced up to three (3) years in prison.

Fraudulent Sale, Transfer, or Conveyance of Personal Identifying Information

The law states: selling, transferring, or conveying personal identifying information of another person and doing so to defraud others is a crime of Penal Code §530.5(d) (1). As a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to up to one year in jail. As a felony, the punishment can go up to three (3) years in prison.