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July 1, 2008                  

For More Information, Contact:
Sarah Mason at (916) 651-4011  


SACRAMENTO - State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today the Governor’s signature of his Senate Bill (SB) 612 which gives victims of identity theft a better opportunity to obtain justice.  “As criminals adapt technology to devise new ways to steal, the state must adapt its laws to prosecute them,” said Simitian.

Under current law, crimes are typically prosecuted where the crime occurs rather than where the victim lives.  As Simitian notes, “That may make sense if it’s in an old fashioned property crime like a burglary, or even an auto theft.”  But, said Simitian, “If an identity thief in Los Angeles goes online and steals the identity of a half dozen people in San Jose, the crime has to be prosecuted in LA.  That makes no sense at all; and, of course, it makes prosecution altogether unlikely.”

“Current law not only makes law enforcement less likely, it clearly favors the criminal over the victim,” said Simitian.  “Expecting a local district attorney to prosecute a case when the victim or victims are all at the other end of the state is simply unrealistic,” he said.  “Local prosecutors are likely to be more aggressive on behalf of local victims.”

Simitian introduced SB 612 to allow identity theft to be prosecuted in the county in which the victim lives, which is not always the case now. Current law permits prosecution in the county in which the theft occurred, or the county in which the information was illegally used –– both of which may be hundreds of miles away from the victim’s home.

SB 612 would permit, but not require, prosecution in the county where the victim resides. A judge would decide where to hold the trial.

Simitian introduced SB 612 in response to recommendations contained in the report from the Governor’s 2005 summit on identity theft: Summit on Identity Theft Solutions:  Locking Up The Evil Twin. 

Lenny Goldberg of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse said, “Senator Simitian’s legislation puts some teeth into our existing laws regarding identity theft. Without prosecution, there’s no deterrent.”

Simitian said he was “particularly pleased that SB 612 was a bi-partisan effort.”  The measure is jointly authored by Simitian and Republican State Senators Dave Cogdill and Bob Margett. 

Upon signing Simitian’s SB 612 the Governor said that, “Protecting the personal information of every Californian is very important to me and I am committed to strong laws that safeguard every individual’s privacy and prevent identity theft. This common sense legislation will lead to more prosecutions of this terrible crime and anyone that commits or even thinks of committing identity theft should know that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

For more information on SB 612, visit