Identity Theft

Elements of the Offense

In order to secure a conviction for identity theft in Virginia, the prosecution must prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

The first element delineates the actus reus (or wrongful act).  It requires that the defendant, acting without authorization or permission, either:

  1. obtain/record/access identifying information of another person which was not available to the general public and which would assist in accessing financial records, obtaining identification documents or obtaining benefits;
  2. obtain money, credit, loans, goods or services through the use of identifying information of another person;
  3. obtain identification document in the name of another person; or
  4. obtain/record/access identifying information of another person while impersonating a law enforcement officer or government official.

The second element requires that the defendant acted with intent to defraud at the time he obtained/recorded/accessed the identifying information, money, credit, loans, goods or services, or identification documents.

Finally, the government needs to prove that the defendant was acting for the benefit of either himself or a third party.


If the government can prove that the identity theft resulted in financial loss greater than $200, the crime is a Class 6 felony offense punishable by one to 5 years in a state correctional institution, confinement jail for up to 12 months, and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.  If the government can proves that the financial loss was less $200 or less, identity theft is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. Any second or subsequent conviction for identity theft is also a Class felony. Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-186.3.