The crimes people know as “theft” and “identity theft” might have similar names in everyday English — but they have very different legal definitions. In fact, Georgia law refers to identity theft as “identity fraud”.
While these crimes are different, they do both sometimes involve allegations that someone took something from someone else. This article might not clear all confusion, but it should provide some general information.
A charge of theft would fall into two general categories. The first is if a person allegedly unlawfully takes property from someone else. The second category is slightly more complicated and involves someone with lawful possession of property appropriating it.
An example of the first type of situation might be a typical theft of a car. In the second type of situation, an example might be a warehouse operator taking property from a client who is renting warehouse space.
Identity fraud also has a relatively complex definition. It might involve any of the following acts:
- Using personal information of another to defraud, including that of a minor child in the person’s custody
- Creating or using counterfeit personal information of real or imaginary people
- Possessing these types of information with the intent to defraud people
The actions in the definition focus more on deceiving other people. They do not directly involve taking property from others.
Unfortunately, criminal allegations typically involve multiple offenses. It is quite possible for a single arrest to involve charges of both theft and identity fraud. Understanding each item on a police report in context is often critical when forming a criminal defense strategy.