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New York Penal Law § 190.78: Identity Theft in the Third Degree

New York Penal Law § 190.78 defines identity theft in the third degree as a crime committed when a person knowingly and with intent to defraud assumes the identity of another person and uses that identity to commit a crime or to obtain goods, services, money, credit, or other property. The law requires that the person has obtained or attempted to obtain something of value using the victim's identity. The value of what was obtained or attempted to be obtained must be less than $2,000. If the value is more than $2,000, the offense is elevated to identity theft in the second degree, which is a more serious offense.

The law recognizes that identity theft can take many forms, including stealing a person's credit card or social security number, opening accounts in the victim's name, or using the victim's personal information to obtain goods or services. The law is designed to protect individuals from the harms of identity theft and to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.


People v. Thornton, 16 Misc.3d 1123(A), 843 N.Y.S.2d 679 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2007). The defendant was charged with, among other things, identity theft in the third degree, after he used a victim's personal information to obtain a cellular phone account. The defendant argued that he did not have the intent to commit identity theft, but the court found that the evidence was sufficient to support the charge. The court also rejected the defendant's argument that he did not know that his conduct was illegal. The court held that knowledge of the illegal nature of the conduct was not an element of the crime of identity theft in the third degree.

People v. Johnson, 24 N.Y.3d 655 (2015). In this case, the defendant was charged with identity theft in the third degree for using a stolen credit card to make purchases totaling less than $2,000. The defendant argued that the evidence against him was insufficient to support a conviction for identity theft in the third degree because the prosecution failed to prove that he had the intent to defraud. However, the court rejected this argument and upheld the conviction.

The court noted that intent to defraud can be inferred from the defendant's actions and the surrounding circumstances, such as the fact that the defendant used a stolen credit card to make purchases. The court also noted that the defendant's knowledge that the credit card was stolen was sufficient to establish his intent to defraud.

Related Offenses
  1. Identity theft in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 190.79
  2. Identity theft in the first degree: New York Penal Law section 190.80
  3. Aggravated identity theft: New York Penal Law section 190.80-A

Identity theft in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor, which is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense in New York. It is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Additionally, a person convicted of identity theft in the third degree may be required to pay restitution to the victim.

New York Penal Law § 190.78: Identity Theft in the Third Degree

A person is guilty of identity theft in the third degree when he or she knowingly and with intent to defraud assumes the identity of another person by presenting himself or herself as that other person, or by acting as that other person or by using personal identifying information of that other person, and thereby:

  1. obtains goods, money, property or services or uses credit in the name of such other person or causes financial loss to such person or to another person or persons; or
  2. commits a class A misdemeanor or higher level crime.

Identity theft in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are charged with New York Penal Law § 190.78, Identity theft in the third degree, it is important to seek legal advice from an experienced criminal attorney serving New York who can help you understand the charges against you, advise you on your legal options, and represent you in court. With the help of an attorney, you can build a strong defense strategy and potentially minimize the consequences of the charges against you. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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