Unauthorized Use of Personal Information – California Penal Code 530.5(a)

Criminal charges for the unauthorized use of a person’s personal information is very common in instances where there is a relationship based on trust.  A couple going through a divorce may allege that one spouse used his or her personal information without the consent of the other to obtain a loan or to transfer funds.  Siblings contesting the distribution of their parents’ estate may allege that one sibling exerted undue influence to willfully notarize a document, transfer stock options or a deed, or obtain funds from a bank account.  Business partners filing for dissolution of a corporation may allege that funds were misappropriated by one officer without the consent of the board.  Subpoena of the notary book, bank records, handwriting exemplars and other documentary evidence are just some circumstantial evidence that may be used in defending a criminal charge for the unauthorized use of a person’s identification information for the purpose to defraud.  While the criminal investigation or charges are pending, there also may be a pending civil case for fraud attempting to use the criminal conviction in violation of California Penal Code 530.5(a) and the statements from trial for the benefit of the civil case.  The burden of a civil case is by the preponderance of the evidence which is a much lower burden then that of the criminal case.   

Often time a person may be charged with the unauthorized use of a person identification where the person who gave them permission, subsequently had a falling out and called law enforcement alleging fraud and unauthorize use.  The Khachatourians Law Group is experienced in handling such complex criminal and civil litigation disputes arising from marital, partnership, and corporate dissolution as well as distribution of wealth.

Elements of California Penal Code, § 530.5(a)  

If a person is charges with the unauthorized use of someone else’s personal identifying information pursuant to California Penal Code section 530.5(a) the People must prove that:

1.The defendant willfully obtained someone else’s personal identifying information;

2.The defendant willfully used that information for an unlawful purpose; and

3.The defendant used the information without the consent of the person whose identifying information he or she was using.

It is not necessary that anyone actually be defrauded or actually suffer a financial, legal, or property loss as a result of the defendant’s acts. In a nursing home setting, the administrator or staff developer assisting with a patient’s finances may be accused of violating Penal Code section 530.5(a) for depositing the patient’s social security check if the patient alleges after the fact that they did not provide any consent.  It may be that in the admission agreement, the patient agreed to transfer of the social security check to the facility (minus the share of cost), and as a result of the patient’s diagnosis, the staff member is now being accused of unauthorized use where there is no financial gain for the staff member.

If you are facing criminal charges for the misappropriation of a person’s personal identification information, call attorney Arthur Khachatourians for a defense consultation.