|NASHVILLE – Legislation allows identity theft in Tennessee to be prosecuted in the county in which the victim resides and where the crime occurs has overcome its first hurdle Tuesday with passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The legislation, Senate Bill 254 sponsored by state Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), clarifies the definitions of “identity theft” and “victim,” and allows law enforcement to prosecute in the Tennessee county where the crime occurs, regardless of whether the defendant was ever actually in the state.
“A central problem in prosecuting these crimes is we need clarification that offenders can be prosecuted in the specific county in Tennessee where their victim is located and where the crime occurs if done remotely,” Tracy said. “This bill clarifies that this can be done by expanding the venue under state law to where the victim resides.”
Under present law, a person commits the Class D felony offense of identity theft if they knowingly obtain, possesses or use the personal identifying information of another person with the intent to commit any unlawful act such as obtaining credit, goods, services or medical information in the victim’s name.
Identity theft also applies if the identifying information is done without the consent of the victim or without the lawful authority to obtain, possess, or use that information.
“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country,” Tracy said. “Victims of this crime have reported enormous debts as a result of having their identity stolen. This is not to speak of the heartaches of feeling victimized and the headaches one must go through to clear their name or their credit records in the aftermath of such a crime. I am pleased this bill is progressing.”