Is Identity Theft a Common Occurrence?
Interviewer: That’s probably pretty rare. What constitutes identity theft and what kind of specific crimes have you seen that fall into that and is it a separate area of the law?
Adam: It is separate, to a degree. It depends on what specific actions were involved. I haven’t had a many clients that have committed identity theft. The most common crime I see is usually a stolen credit card, or somebody left their ATM card in the machine and before the machine destroys the card, he or she pulls up and there’s a code in there and they are able to withdraw money out of the account.
Interviewer: How about the old-fashioned purse snatchings? Is that considered identity theft, or just theft?
Adam: That would be considered just be theft.
What Would Constitute a Fraud Charge?
Interviewer: What about if you take another person’s driver’s license and present it as your own to buy alcohol, or to buy something online? Is that considered identity theft?
Adam: It will fall into theft, and fraud is the actual classification in Ohio, the code sections that govern it. It’s fraud, at that point and time.
Interviewer: It’s theft and fraud, or just fraud?
Adam: Theft and fraud are the general classification that you could be charged under the sub-codes.
Interviewer: You have seen people where they’ll take a debit card, or take a credit card. Have you seen in restaurants if the waiter has their own machine, or copies the card number and steals that way? Does that occur?
Adam: I haven’t seen it that frequently. Not quite as often, but, yes, it does happen.
Interviewer: Are there any surprises, or misconceptions people have about identity theft, particularly you’ve seen, that catch them unawares?
Adam: First of all, the people that have the most misconceptions about identity theft are usually the victims.
What Is the Identity Theft Charge in Ohio?
Interviewer: Does the state of Ohio take identity theft very seriously, or just as serious as any other crime?
Adam: It’s going to depend on what was stolen and what was done. Obviously, if the theft involves a credit card, where you can obtain an expensive service or purchase expensive items, you’re getting into felony area again. The charges would be theft and fraud.
Credit Card Theft Can Be a Felony Charge
Interviewer: You discussed a $1000 limit for a misdemeanor charge versus a felony, but let’s say someone steals a debit card, and they charge gas on it and the amount only amounts to 60 dollars.
Adam: It is still a crime. One dollar is all it takes. Just $1.00.
Interviewer: For credit card theft, or debit card theft, even though they charge $1.00 and they buy an inexpensive item, that’s a felony because it’s a credit card, or debit card?
Adam: Yes, that is right.
What Is a Robbery Charge?
Interviewer: That’s important to know. That could easily be a horrifying realization to someone that does that and doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Let’s talk about robbery. What is a robbery versus a burglary versus larceny? It sounds like a kind of theft, but what is it?
Adam: It’s any type of theft committed with force, or threat of force.
Interviewer: If you say to someone, “Give me your money, or I’ll punch you in the face,” that’s a robbery just the same as pointing a gun at someone and saying, “Give me your money.” Is that right?
Adam: Yes. Then again, you’re getting into classifications. You could have aggravated robbery, depending on classification of if they did actually hurt somebody. Then you’re getting into aggravated robbery when there is use of a deadly weapon, which could be a gun.
Burglary is the breaking and entering of any person’s dwelling with the intent to commit a felony there. There are a lot of elements that need to be met. The biggest thing is whether it’s an occupied structure, or just a building.
Interviewer: We’ll get into burglary in a minute. Let’s focus on robbery. Are there any special classifications of robbery? If you commit a robbery with a firearm versus a rock, or some other object, is it a different charge? Is it more serious with a firearm, or are there certain objects that make it more serious if you rob someone?
Aggravated Robbery Charges
Adam: Even with the use of a rock, a prosecutor’s probably still going to try and say it’s deadly and it can inflict enough harm to be classified in the aggravated category. They’re going to say, “It’s a rock. It can inflict serious damage. It could even kill someone.”
The prosecutor would probably push for the aggravated charge, with any kind of item such as a baseball bat or a knife.
The enhanced charge might also be a matter of whether they’re going to have to try and prove that and make a jury believe that that rock is a deadly weapon. It also might be something that could be considered during plea process, whether they’re going to amend it and reduce the charge.
Interviewer: Anytime you commit a robbery with any kind of object, the prosecutors are going to try to say that’s a deadly weapon to increase the level of severity of the robbery?
Adam: I would say that they’re going to start charging there, then, maybe, they get a little more realistic after they go through the plea bargain. They may be willing to drop it down, or they’ll have to take it to trial.
Interviewer: Are there any other categories of classifications of robberies that are important to know about?
Adam: Just the robbery and aggravated charges. Those are the two main categories.
By Adam Hunt