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Thread: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    There is a problem with Social Security Numbers used for identification: the number is not necessarily unique to an individual. There are people out there who lawfully have the same social security number.

    Additionally, there are number sequences not yet assigned.

    Consequently, can a person use made-up social security numbers to obtain various identification documents and be operating under the presumption that the identity so created does not match another person's identity? Yes, it is possible.

    From what little information is contained in the article, I have to agree with the court. Basically, the defendant was charged with the wrong crime, or perhaps a superfluous crime. He committed several counts of fraud, certainly, but, depending on how his documents were obtained, it is not certain he "knowingly" stole another person's identity, which, according to the article, is an essential element of the statutory offense of identity theft.

    For a conviction to be just, the defendant has to be shown to have committed the crime charged, and that means proving all the elements of the crime. If prior knowledge is an element of a crime per statutory law, then prior knowledge needs to be shown, and, absent evidence to support prior knowledge, the legally correct verdict for such a charge would be not guilty, even if the same body of evidence is sufficient to convict of other, similar charges.

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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by ADK_Forever View Post
    Another example of a prosecutor going after a criminal for the wrong crime! Idiot!

    Why charge "Aggravated Identity Theft"???
    Dammit ADK, you know the time-space continuum won't survive you agreeing with me (or vice versa)!

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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    What happened to ignorance of the law is no excuse?
    That is a different principle. That means that you can't use the defense "I didn't know that what I was doing was illegal." That's completely different from "I didn't know that my actions would result in a crime." If the illegal immigrant in question knowingly committed identity theft and then claimed that he didn't know that identity theft was a crime, then I would agree.

    To illustrate the difference between these two principles, here's an analogy. Suppose that some elderly man receives a social security check every week for $500. One week, he receives a check for $50,000 by mistake. He deposits it in his bank account without looking at it, like he always does, and doesn't alert the government to its error. Has he defrauded the government? I think not. If, on the other hand, he knew perfectly well about the error and claimed he didn't know that his actions were illegal, then he should be found guilty.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 05-04-09 at 08:33 PM.
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    That is a different principle. That means that you can't use the defense "I didn't know that what I was doing was illegal." That's completely different from "I didn't know that my actions would result in a crime." If the illegal immigrant in question knowingly committed identity theft and then claimed that he didn't know that identity theft was a crime, then I would agree.

    To illustrate the difference between these two principles, here's an analogy. Suppose that some elderly man receives a social security check every week for $500. One week, he receives a check for $50,000 by mistake. He deposits it in his bank account without looking at it, like he always does, and doesn't alert the government to its error. Has he defrauded the government? I think not. If, on the other hand, he knew perfectly well about the other error and claimed he didn't know that his actions were illegal, then he should be found guilty.
    Thats such a stretch that can be played.

    The illegal immigrant had to know on some level that the SSN was stolen otherwise he wouldn't have gone through back channels to get it.
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    It can be confusing, but the difference is between "general intent" crimes and "specific intent" crimes.

    The ruling has really has nothing or very little to do with the legal status of the individual in the United States.

    Basically what the ruling says and what the law requires is that if a person obtains a fake ID/SSN# with the intent to steal the person's identity and to defraud that person, it is a crime.
    It is not "identity theft" if you believe that it is fake but have no knowledge of or try to assume the identity of another individual.

    In other words, if an person obtains my SSN# and information and thereby tries to pass himself off as me...that is one thing.
    If they fraudently randomly pick my SSN# but refer to themselves as Jose Gonzales or even Joe Smith, neither of which is my name, there is no intent to assume the identity and therefore no identity theft.
    <font size=5><b>Its been several weeks since the Vegas shooting.  Its it still "Too Early" or can we start having the conversation about finally doing something about these mass shootings???​</b></font>

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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    Thats such a stretch that can be played.

    The illegal immigrant had to know on some level that the SSN was stolen otherwise he wouldn't have gone through back channels to get it.
    Not necessarily. You can get fake IDs with random numbers used for the SSN. In fact, most of them use random numbers. If I was an illegal immigrant trying to fly below the radar, the last thing I would want is someone else's actual SSN.
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    The illegal immigrant had to know on some level that the SSN was stolen otherwise he wouldn't have gone through back channels to get it.
    Not necessarily. What the defendant had to have known was that he obtained forged/fraudulent documents. If I obtain a forged driver's license that was not properly issued by a state DMV, I have not stolen anybody's identity. I have committed a crime, and doubly so if I use that forged license in any way, just not the crime of identity theft.

    If I steal someone's SSN and driver's license info, and use that information to acquire credit cards and other services using the particulars of that person's identity, then I have stolen their identity.

    It is not a question of the action being a crime; it is a question of what crime that action is. As a matter of ensuring an equitable dispensation of justice in the courts, prosecutors need to be certain they are charging the defendant with the right crime. That does not seem to have happened in this case.

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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by celticlord View Post
    Not necessarily. What the defendant had to have known was that he obtained forged/fraudulent documents. If I obtain a forged driver's license that was not properly issued by a state DMV, I have not stolen anybody's identity. I have committed a crime, and doubly so if I use that forged license in any way, just not the crime of identity theft.

    If I steal someone's SSN and driver's license info, and use that information to acquire credit cards and other services using the particulars of that person's identity, then I have stolen their identity.

    It is not a question of the action being a crime; it is a question of what crime that action is. As a matter of ensuring an equitable dispensation of justice in the courts, prosecutors need to be certain they are charging the defendant with the right crime. That does not seem to have happened in this case.
    Exactly right....wow....I agree with CL on something
    <font size=5><b>Its been several weeks since the Vegas shooting.  Its it still "Too Early" or can we start having the conversation about finally doing something about these mass shootings???​</b></font>

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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by disneydude View Post
    Exactly right....wow....I agree with CL on something
    Yeah, I know....I'm gonna need plenty of scotch to deal with this....

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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Not necessarily. You can get fake IDs with random numbers used for the SSN. In fact, most of them use random numbers. If I was an illegal immigrant trying to fly below the radar, the last thing I would want is someone else's actual SSN.

    Quote Originally Posted by celticlord
    Not necessarily. What the defendant had to have known was that he obtained forged/fraudulent documents. If I obtain a forged driver's license that was not properly issued by a state DMV, I have not stolen anybody's identity. I have committed a crime, and doubly so if I use that forged license in any way, just not the crime of identity theft.

    If I steal someone's SSN and driver's license info, and use that information to acquire credit cards and other services using the particulars of that person's identity, then I have stolen their identity.

    It is not a question of the action being a crime; it is a question of what crime that action is. As a matter of ensuring an equitable dispensation of justice in the courts, prosecutors need to be certain they are charging the defendant with the right crime. That does not seem to have happened in this case.
    That makes sense.

    Isn't it true though that the government charges and convicts people with crimes even though that wasn't their intent.

    This decision should filter down to all levels of crime.
    I was discovering that life just simply isn't fair and bask in the unsung glory of knowing that each obstacle overcome along the way only adds to the satisfaction in the end. Nothing great, after all, was ever accomplished by anyone sulking in his or her misery.
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