DES MOINES (AP) — The minimum charge for identity theft would be increased to a felony under legislation approved Monday by the Iowa House.
Current law allows offenders to be charged on a sliding scale, from an aggravated misdemeanor to a class D felony. Offenders commit a felony if the value of what they purchased with a stolen identity is more than $1,000.
The bill, approved 84-11 with bipartisan support, would make the minimum a class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison. But it provides exemptions to teenagers or underage adults who use fake or stolen identification cards to enter a bar, buy alcohol or cigarettes, or purchase an R-rated movie ticket.
Rep. Mark Brandenburg, R- Council Bluffs, said raising the penalty would deter identity theft crimes. He relayed a story about a constituent whose debit card was stolen by someone who purposely charged three different purchases under the felony threshold.
“Obviously this person was keeping his or her theft under $1,000 because they don’t want to be charged with a felony,” Brandenburg said. “In this particular situation (the bill) is a deterrent.”
But Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, questioned whether the bill was needed.