Online Impersonation

In Texas, it is a crime to impersonate a person online — with very serious penalties.  A 2009 law made it a criminal offense to harass another person online by impersonating them on social media or through electronic communications. In 2011, the Texas legislature expanded the definition of the crime to include impersonating anyone on other websites.  This could include using another person’s name or identity to purchase goods or services.

Like Online Harassment, Online Impersonation carries substantial penalties and the possibility of being charged with two separate crimes for the same conduct. For example, if a person impersonated someone and made a purchase on a website using their credit card, he or she could be charged with both Online Impersonation and Theft.  

Examples of Online Impersonation Charges

Online impersonation can arise in a number of ways, and result in jail time and fines.

  • A person uses someone else’s credit card to purchase a $200 gift card from Wal-Mart without their permission.  He or she creates an online profile using that person’s information, and then makes the purchase with the credit card. The purchase of the gift card using someone else’s credit card could be charged as theft, a Class B Misdemeanor that is punishable by confinement up to 180 days and a fine of $2,000. When the person made a profile for the credit card holder, that could be charged as Online Impersonation, a potential Third Degree Felony with a punishment of 2 to 10 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • A person posts an ad on Craigslist, offering to sell another person’s car and providing that person’s address and contact information. This person could be charged with Online Impersonation for making this post.  

If you have been charged with online impersonation and any related charges, you need a seasoned defense attorney who can protect your legal rights and freedom.  

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Potential Defenses to Online Impersonation

While the Online Impersonation law is meant to address real threats to online safety and security, its language may be too broad and allow people to be charged for things that should not be crimes. 

Possible defenses to online impersonation charges include:
  • The First Amendment right to create a parody account of another person, particularly a public figure
  • The post was meant to be a joke, so there was no intent to harm or defraud
  • You are not a resident of Texas

Consult an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, such as the Law Office of Chad West, to determine if you have a viable defense to a charge of Online Impersonation.

Online Impersonation Defense Attorneys in Dallas, Texas

If you have been charged with Online Impersonation, the Law Office of Chad West is here for you.  Our team of attorneys understands this law, including possible defenses to the charge. We will examine your case and explain the charge and potential penalties to you. We will vigorously defend you and work to have the charges dismissed or reduce. Contact our office today to discuss how we can help if you have been charged with Online Impersonation.