What Are Some Possible Defenses to Identity Theft Charges?

Categories: Criminal Defense

Two individuals consulting with a Colorado Theft Defense Lawyer at Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C.Law enforcement is starting to catch up with technology. Police now have sophisticated methods of investigating and arresting people for identity theft. Prosecutors also take these charges seriously. That is why you will need a lawyer who knows the best defenses to identity theft charges if the police accuse you of stealing someone’s personal information.

Colorado criminal defense attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has over 30 years of experience protecting the rights and liberties of people like you. Drawing on his tremendous experience, Mark will evaluate your case, discuss your needs thoroughly, and work tirelessly to protect you from the harsh consequences of an identity theft charge.

What Is Identity Theft?

Understanding Colorado’s identity theft law is necessary to develop a successful defense strategy. Colorado’s identity theft statute defines identity theft as:

  • Knowingly using personal identifying information, financial identifying information, or a financial device of another without permission or authority to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or another item of value or make a financial payment;
  • Knowingly using personal identifying information, financial identifying information, or a financial device of another without permission or authority, intending to use or to aid or permit another person to use that information or device to obtain cash, credit, property services, or another item of value or make a financial payment;
  • Falsely making, completing, altering, or uttering a written instrument or financial device that has any personal identifying information or financial information of another person with the intent to defraud;
  • Knowingly possessing personal identifying information or financial information of another without permission or authority to use when applying for or completing an application for a financial device or extending credit; and
  • Knowingly possessing personal identifying information or financial information of another without permission or authority with the intent to obtain a government-issued document.

As you can see, this definition uses certain terms that need to be understood. Defining those terms is essential to understanding Colorado’s identity theft law. 


For example, Colorado law states that a “financial device” is any instrument or device like credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, checks, and money orders. “Financial identifying information” refers to your PIN, account number, routing number, debit card number, or credit card number. Finally, “personal identifying information” means your date of birth, social security number, passwords, biometric data, and number from a government-issued identification card.

What Are the Penalties for Identity Theft in Colorado?

The penalties for an identity theft conviction are serious but vary depending on the nature of the charges. For example, using personal information, financial information, or a financial device for obtaining cash or property or fraudulently using a written instrument or financial device is a Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony carries a range of incarceration from two to six years with three years of mandatory parole. 

Possessing someone’s personal identifying information, financial information, or financial device is a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, the crime becomes a Class 6 felony if the accused has three or more financial devices from three different people.

A person convicted of a Class 6 felony faces between one year and 18 months in prison.

Meanwhile, a Class 2 misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail. The sentences discussed are presumptive rather than mandatory. 

Our clients have benefitted from Mark’s thorough understanding of Colorado’s sentencing laws, as he knows how to persuasively argue for probation rather than jail. The prosecutor will ask the judge to impose the presumptive sentence because prosecutors only know about the crime and the alleged victim. Rarely do they have the personal history of the people they prosecute. Mark will educate the court about you at sentencing because criminal sentencing should focus on the individual. Highlighting your positive qualities and explaining your behavior helps focus the judge on rehabilitation rather than incarceration. 

Identity Theft Charges: Defenses in CO

It is important to keep in mind that you don’t have to worry about sentencing if you beat your case. As a person accused of a crime, you enjoy the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence remains with you unless and until the Government, represented by the prosecutor, proves every element of the charge against you beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecutor always has the burden to prove you guilty. That means you do not have to prove you are innocent. A strong defense pokes holes in the Government’s case and shows it cannot meet its burden. In other words, holes in the case help a good lawyer persuade the jury that there is reasonable doubt about your guilt. 

The best way to approach the “reasonable doubt” defense varies depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Depending on those circumstances, you might be able to argue: 

  • You had permission to use the other person’s information;
  • You mistakenly believed you had the authority to use the information;
  • You did not intend to commit fraud; 
  • You did not know the information you used belonged to someone else; or
  • The police charged the wrong person, also known as the “third-party culprit defense.”

Your case might involve a defense not listed here, or it could be a combination of the defenses listed above. 

You may also have an argument that the police violated your rights while they tried to build a case against you. Identity fraud cases often involve police searches. You may convince a judge to suppress evidence the police seized if they violated your rights. Additionally, you may be able to argue successfully against the admission of any statements you made to the police if they did not give Miranda warnings to you. 

Certainly, not every defense will apply to your case. Understanding the best defense for your identity theft case takes years of experience and a wealth of knowledge. With Mark S. Rubinstein in your corner, you have over 30 years of experience and an impressive track record of success working to preserve your future.

Winning Defenses to Identity Theft Charges

Contact defense lawyer, Mark S. Rubinstein, today. Mark is available any day of the week to take your call and will go to you if necessary. Your case is in good hands when you trust Mark to represent you.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.