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RCW 9.35.020 is the Washington statute that defines identity theft. Under this statute, a defendant can be convicted of the crime if a prosecutor proves two elements. These are:

  1. The accused knowingly obtained, possessed, used or transferred a means of identification or financial information of another person (either living or dead); and,
  2. He did so with the intent to commit, or to aid or assist in, any crime.

Some items of “identification or financial information” that are used in identity theft offenses include:

  • Names;
  • Addresses;
  • Driver’s license information;
  • Social Security numbers; and,
  • Credit card numbers.


There are two types of identity theft offenses charged in Washington. These are:

  • Identity theft in the first degree; and,
  • Identity theft in the second degree.

The difference between the two is related to the amount of financial loss or harm that takes place.

Identity theft in the first degree is charged if a person commits the offense and obtains money, goods, or something else of value that is in excess of $1,500. This crime is a class B felony. It is punishable by:

  • Up to 10 years in prison; and/or,
  • A maximum fine of $20,000.

Identity theft in the second degree is charged if a person commits the crime and obtains money, goods, or something else of value that is equal to or less than $1,500.  This offense is a class C felony. It is punishable by:

  • Up to five years in prison; and/or,
  • A maximum fine of $10,000.


Luckily, there are legal defenses that a defendant can raise to try to beat accusations of identity theft. A successful defense can work to reduce or even dismiss a charge. One common, and effective, defense is for a defendant to show that while he may have obtained someone’s identification information, he did so by accident and not with the intent to commit a crime.

Please note, however, that it will take an experienced criminal defense attorney to raise the best defenses. The attorneys at Black Law, PLLC, have over 20 years of combined experience defending clients on identity theft charges. These same Washington theft lawyers are dedicated to their clients and passionate in their representation. Please contact them now to get the legal defense that you deserve.


We serve clients throughout Washington including those in the following localities: King County including Bellevue, Kent, and Seattle; Benton County including Kennewick; Chelan County including Wenatchee; Clallam County including Port Angeles; Grays Harbor County including Aberdeen; Kitsap County including Port Orchard; Kittitas County including Ellensburg; Pierce County including Tacoma; Skagit County including Mount Vernon; Snohomish County including Everett; Spokane County including Spokane; Thurston County including Olympia; Whatcom County including Bellingham; and Yakima County including Yakima.

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