Third Degree Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information: NY Penal Law 190.81

A sister crime to Third Degree Identity Theft, an arrest for New York Penal Law 190.81, Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information, is equally serious regardless if it comes on the back end of an arrest followed by a Desk Appearance Ticket or full processing through the jails of New York criminal court. With the punishment and penalties for a PL 190.81 conviction including incarceration, probation, fines, community service and a lifelong migraine of epic proportions, at the first inclination that you could find yourself arrested for or charged with Third Degree Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information you need to retain the best criminal defense lawyer and Identity Theft attorney. Just like all other class “A” misdemeanors, there is not merely the etched in stone permanency of a criminal conviction you must manage, but at the time of sentencing your judge has the authority and ability to sentence you to not merely some community service or up to three years probation, but one year in jail. If you are arrested and convicted of PL 190.81 in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, your “staycation” will be on the infamous Rikers Island. While judges in Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess and Putnam counties won’t send you to the Island, they each have their own county jail.

New York Penal Law 190.81: Understanding the Law and Crime

A distinct crime from Identity Theft, the crime of Third Degree Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information, New York Penal Law 190.81, involves exactly what its statutory title reflects. You are guilty of PL 190.81 if you knowingly possess a person’s financial services account number or code, savings account number or code, checking account number or code, brokerage account number or code, credit card number or code, debit card number or code, personal identification number, mother’s maiden name, computer system password, electronic signature, or unique biometric data that is a fingerprint, voice print, retinal image, or iris image. While the mere possession of this personal identification information is not criminal, if you possess the same of another person with the intent that it be used in the furtherance of a New York Penal Law Article 190 crime, such as any degree of Identity Theft, you are guilty of this class “A” misdemeanor.

New York Penal Law 190.81: Issues and Concerns

Like many of the crimes involving Identity Theft and Identity Fraud, there is a very thin line between misdemeanors and felonies. As your criminal lawyer can explain further, this issue exists with Third Degree Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information as well. If, for example you possess in total at least 250 items of personal identification information, your offense is no longer a misdemeanor, but a class “E” felony of New York Penal Law 190.82. Elevating the crime further to a class “D” felony of New York Penal Law 190.83 is not much more burdensome for the police or District Attorney. While there are many subsections of First Degree Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information, if the information you possess with the same intent as the misdemeanor crime is that of a member of the military serving overseas, you are aware of the same and you have a certain number of accomplices, you will violate this statute. Even if you are not aware, if you supervise more than three people or you have prior convictions for crimes such as Grand Larceny in the preceding five years, you would face prosecution on this felony. Unlike the class “A” misdemeanor, class “E” and “D” felonies are punishable with a potential penalty of four and seven years in prison respectively.

Another issue that may be the foundation of your defense to Third Degree Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information is that “personal identifying information” as defined in New York Penal Law 190.77(1) casts a wider net, but is distinct from these types of personal identification information set forth in PL 190.81. For example, a telephone number may satisfy the “personal identifying information” element for Identity Theft, but not Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information. It is of critical import that you and your criminal defense lawyer vet the allegations to best ensure what you possess, if true, violates the statute.

Outside of the above concerns, it is important to recognize that even if you are charged with this misdemeanor, prosecutors may pursue additional crimes including misdemeanor and felony Forgery, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and Identity Theft among others. As serious as PL 190.81 is as a stand-alone offense, there is an enormous spectrum of potential misdemeanors and felonies that may accompany this charge in a prosecution.

New York Penal Law 190.81: Defenses to Consider

While you and your Identity Fraud crime lawyer should consider any viable defense to an arrest for Third Degree Unlawful Possession of Identification Information, because the offenses is a possessory crime, you should examine the legality of your search and seizure. What was the probable cause to arrest you? Was the search of your person investigatory or pursuant to a lawful arrest? If retrieved from your home or vehicle, how did the police obtain the authority? Lawfully from you? Did the District Attorney draft and a judge sign off on a search warrant? Moreover, how is law enforcement establishing your lack of permission or authority to possess the identification information or your intent to further a misdemeanor of felony codified in New York Penal Law Article 190?

At bottom, a conviction for PL 190.81 will haunt your criminal record forever. Whether you are sentenced to prison or one day of community service, being accuse and convicted of a fraud offense and Identity Theft related crime will shatter your career and future while branding you a fraudster wherever you go in life. Do not take such an accusation lightly or know that when you look back at your shortcomings and failures you will have only yourself to blame.

No matter if you are completely innocent and there is a reasonable explanation as to your possession or you possession was unlawful, you have rights and a future that both must be protected. The New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC have the experience, knowledge and advocacy to do just that.

Call us at 212.312.7129 or contact us online today to speak with our New York attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors.

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