Estes Seeks Tougher Punishment for Identity Theft
AUSTIN -- State Senator Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, filed legislation today that would strengthen punishment for persons convicted of identity theft.
"Statistics show that identity theft is among the fastest growing crimes in America, and a majority of Texans are worried about someone stealing their identity for criminal purposes. Texas needs tougher punishment for someone who steals another person's identity," Estes said. "This type of crime can literally turn the victim's life upside down. Anyone convicted of identity theft needs to be punished with more than just a proverbial slap on the wrist. It's a serious crime with serious consequences."
Senate Bill 742 seeks to increase the punishment for giving false information to law enforcement in an effort to evade the law. "Failure to identify," as defined in the Texas Penal Code, includes giving fictitious information or another person's information which currently is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
"This is hardly adequate punishment for someone who steals another person's identity," said Estes, who proposes to move these crimes up a notch on the scale of misdemeanor offenses by providing stiffer fines and longer jail terms for those convicted.
His legislation would make it a Class B misdemeanor for giving someone else's identity information to a law enforcement officer, and bump it up to a Class A misdemeanor if the perpetrator is a fugitive from justice.
Class B misdemeanors are punishable by a fine up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, or a combination of the two. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by a fine up to $4,000, up to one year in jail, or a combination of the two.
"The stiffer fines and jail terms I am proposing are more reflective of these crimes. This problem is only going to worsen unless we put more teeth into the law by providing stiffer penalties. Anyone thinking about stealing someone else's identity should know that they will be punished with a substantial fine and a lengthy jail sentence," Estes said.
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