Identity Theft and Related Crimes | Sentencing and Federal Laws

Appendix A

Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines

Under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines, felony offenses are divided into eleven levels of severity, ranging from low (Level I) to high (Level XI). The offense level, combined with the offender’s criminal history, determines the offender’s presumptive sentence. The following table references crimes associated with identity theft and their corresponding presumptive sentence.

Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines

(Criminal History Score = 0-6)

Crime Amount Involved Statutory Ref. Offense Severity Level Presumptive Sentence Range (in months)
Identity theft Over $35,000 609.527, subd. 3(5) VIII 48–108
Check forgery Over $35,000 609.631, subd. 4(1) V 18–48
Financial transaction card
Over $35,000 609.821, subd. 3(1)
V 18–48
Check forgery Over $2,500 609.631, subd. 4(2) III 12–23
Identity theft Over $2,500 609.527, subd. 3(4) III 12–23
Stolen or counterfeit check 609.528, subd. 3(4) III 12–23
Phishing 609.527, subd. 5a II 12–21
Check forgery $251–$2,500 609.631, subd. 4 (3) (a) II 12–21
Identity theft $501–$2,500 609.527, subd. 3(3) II 12–21
Check forgery $250 or less 609.631, subd. 4 (3)
I 12–19
Financial transaction card
609.631, subd.
I 12–19
Fraudulent drivers’ licenses
and ID
609.652 I 12–19

A judge must use the presumptive sentence found in the guidelines when imposing a sentence. However, if substantial and compelling circumstances are involved and determined by the fact finder, the court may depart upward from the presumptive sentence. One such recognized circumstance is an offender’s use of another’s identity without authorization to commit a crime. This is considered an aggravating factor, but it may only be used when the use of another’s identity is not an element of the offense.

Appendix B

Selection of Federal Criminal Laws Relating to Identity Theft

Citation Act or Short Name Description of Crime Maximum Penalty
18 U.S.C.
§ 1028 (a)(7)
Identity Theft
Deterrence Act
of 1998
Makes it a crime to knowingly transfer, possess, or use
personally identifying information without authorization
and with the intent to commit any unlawful activity under
federal law or an activity that is a felony under state law.
Identifying information includes name, date of birth,
Social Security number, driver’s license, fingerprints,
retina or iris image, and electronic identification numbers.
The maximum penalty applies if the offense facilitated an
act of domestic or international terrorism.
30 years’
$250,000 fine
15 U.S.C.
§ 1644
Protection Act
Sets out six different acts relating to the fraudulent use of
a credit card
10 years’
$10,000 fine
18 U.S.C.
§ 1029
Credit Card
Fraud Act of
Makes it a crime to knowingly produce, use, possess, or
traffic in “counterfeit access devices” or “unauthorized
access devices,” which includes debit cards, credit cards,
account numbers, and forged credit card receipts
20 years’
$250,000 fine
18 U.S.C.
§ 1341
Mail fraud Makes it a crime for anyone with an intent or scheme to
defraud to use the U.S. Postal Service or private or
commercial carriers to send or receive anything in the
course of the scheme
30 years’
$1,000,000 fine
18 U.S.C.
§ 1343
Wire fraud Makes it a crime for anyone who “transmits or causes to
be transmitted by means of wire, radio or television
communications in interstate or foreign commerce, any
writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose
of executing … a scheme or artifice” with intent to
30 years’
$1,000,000 fine
18 U.S.C.
§ 1344
Makes it a crime to knowingly execute, or attempt to
execute, a scheme to defraud a financial institution or
obtain any moneys or funds controlled by the institution
30 years’
$1,000,000 fine
18 U.S.C.
§ 1030(a)(4)
Makes it a crime to knowingly and with intent to defraud,
access a protected computer without authorization and
obtain anything of value
10 years’
$250,000 fine
42 U.S.C. §
use of Social
Prohibits the unauthorized use of a Social Security
number to obtain payment or a benefit to which the person
is not entitled by falsely representing the assignment of a
Social Security number
5 years’
15 U.S.C.
§ 1693n
Fund Transfer
Provides consumer protection for ATM and debit card
transactions. Contains disclosure requirements and
violations for transaction fraud
Disclosure violation: one-year imprisonment/$5,000 fine
Transaction violation: ten years’ imprisonment /$10,000
See description
of crime

Identity Theft and Related Crimes | Overview

This and any related posts have been adopted from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s Information Brief, Identity Theft and Related Crimes, written by legislative analyst Rebecca Pirius.