Identity theft offences are contained within Part 5A of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA)(‘the Act’). They include use of a false identity, misuse of personal identification information and production or possession of prohibited material. A person cannot be convicted of attempting to commit an offence under Part 5A.
Assuming a false identity is an offence under section 144B of the Act. The prosecution must prove that a person made a false pretence either by assuming a false identity or falsely pretending to have a particular qualification or have, or be entitled to act in, a particularly capacity. Further, that the person making the false pretence intended to commit or facilitate the commission of a serious criminal offence. It is irrelevant if the person whose identity was assumed consented to the use of their identity. The maximum penalty will be the penalty appropriate to an attempt to commit the serious criminal offence.
Misuse of personal identification information
Misusing personal identification information is an offence under section 144C of the Act. Such information includes a person’s driver’s licence, passport, credit card or biometric data. The prosecution must prove that a person made use of another person’s personal identification information intending to commit or facilitate the commission of, a serious criminal offence. It is irrelevant if the person whose identification information was used is living or dead or consented to its use. The maximum penalty will be the penalty appropriate to an attempt to commit the serious offence.
A serious criminal offence means an indictable offence or any offence prescribed by regulation.
Production or possession of prohibited material
There are three offences involving prohibited material under section 144D of the Act. First, a person produced or possessed prohibited material intending to use or enable another person to use the material for a criminal purpose. Second, a person who sells, offers for sale, gives, or offers to give prohibited material to another knowing that the other person is likely to use the material for a criminal purpose. Third, a person who is in possession of equipment for making prohibited material intending to use it to commit an offence. Prohibited material includes anything that enables a person to assume a false identity or exercise a right of ownership that belongs to someone else. This is a broad definition. The maximum penalty in each case is 3 years.
Identity theft is becoming more common and treated seriously by law enforcement. This is unsurprising, given the expense of and community interest in preventing and detecting identity theft in a modern society. If you are charged with offences involving identity theft, contact our office to receive expert, accurate and timely advice. We will assess the case against you before you act.