When you think of thieves in the night, the image that probably comes to mind is a burglar who breaks into your home and makes off with a few material items. The take might consist of computers, televisions, loose jewelry, silverware, or maybe a handgun. In Tennessee, the estimated total value of all the goods determines what the possible theft charge will be – a misdemeanor or felony.
Regardless of the level of charge brought, the consequences of a conviction are such that anyone facing theft accusations needs to be conscious of what their rights are and what it will take to defend them. An experienced attorney should be called immediately. The sooner that happens, the greater the chances of achieving the most positive outcome.
Identity theft is a form of theft that stands apart from the normal charging structure in Tennessee. It does not matter how much financial damage an alleged victim suffers. If you are suspected of perpetrating identity theft, the law calls for a Class D felony charge, under which a conviction could yield a criminal penalty of up to 12 years incarceration and a fine of $5,000. The state can also seek to recover the legal costs from the defendant.
Criminal prosecution is only one side of the coin, however. Victims of identity theft can also seek justice through civil action and the award to the victim could be three times the amount of actual damages, plus attorney's fees.
It's also worth noting that a charge of identity theft doesn't necessarily have to involve the hijacking of an identity for financial gain. In some jurisdictions, if you use someone else's social media account to post something in fun, you could be accused of ID theft.
Considering how much young people from middle school on up use social media, that last scenario is hardly farfetched, and it could take some serious legal work to mitigate the consequences if a juvenile is charged.