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

  1. #21
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    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.
    It goes back to what I posted a few posts back. There are some crimes that are "general intent" and others that are "specific intent".

    Some crimes require no specific intent other than the intent to do the activity that the law determines to be a crime.
    Other crimes require that the activity was done with some type of specific intent, such as identity theft, stealing someone's information to assume their identity to commit any number of transactions such as thefts and frauds.
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by disneydude View Post
    It goes back to what I posted a few posts back. There are some crimes that are "general intent" and others that are "specific intent".

    Some crimes require no specific intent other than the intent to do the activity that the law determines to be a crime.
    Other crimes require that the activity was done with some type of specific intent, such as identity theft, stealing someone's information to assume their identity to commit any number of transactions such as thefts and frauds.
    I understand but like with drug laws.

    If you posses more than a certain amount they automatically charge you with intent to distribute even though they have no evidence proving as such.
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    Isn't it true though that the government charges and convicts people with crimes even though that wasn't their intent.
    Intent is not a requisite element of every crime. Under the felony murder rule, for example, if a person dies of a heart attack while being held up at gunpoint, the mugger is still a murderer despite not having formed an intent to kill.

    In the particulars of the specific identity theft law under scrutiny, one of the requisite elements of the crime is that the person "knowingly" use another person's SSN. That creates a burden on the prosecution to show that the defendant used the SSN knowing that it had been assigned to another person--that there was intent to steal another person's identity.

    Perhaps the defendant did have such knowledge. That is not impossible. However, if the evidence presented does not establish that he had such knowledge, the only legally correct verdict is "not guilty" on the specific crime of identity theft, as the statute is currently constructed.

    If the construction of the statute is flawed as a matter of public policy, then it is up to the legislature to modify the statute to remove intent as a requisite element of the offense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    This decision should filter down to all levels of crime.
    Not likely. The Supreme Court basically said the prosecution screwed the pooch by charging the wrong crime and/or failing to prove the crime charged. Sucky day for the prosecution, but the moral of the story is prosecutors need to do their homework.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by celticlord View Post
    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.
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by celticlord View Post
    Intent is not a requisite element of every crime. Under the felony murder rule, for example, if a person dies of a heart attack while being held up at gunpoint, the mugger is still a murderer despite not having formed an intent to kill.

    In the particulars of the specific identity theft law under scrutiny, one of the requisite elements of the crime is that the person "knowingly" use another person's SSN. That creates a burden on the prosecution to show that the defendant used the SSN knowing that it had been assigned to another person--that there was intent to steal another person's identity.

    Perhaps the defendant did have such knowledge. That is not impossible. However, if the evidence presented does not establish that he had such knowledge, the only legally correct verdict is "not guilty" on the specific crime of identity theft, as the statute is currently constructed.

    If the construction of the statute is flawed as a matter of public policy, then it is up to the legislature to modify the statute to remove intent as a requisite element of the offense.


    Not likely. The Supreme Court basically said the prosecution screwed the pooch by charging the wrong crime and/or failing to prove the crime charged. Sucky day for the prosecution, but the moral of the story is prosecutors need to do their homework.
    In your scenario above it wouldn't be more but involuntary manslaughter because even though your doing a despicable act you had no intent to kill.

    I prefer some sort of uniformity, especially in the case because if intent is the only reason you get charged then honestly having no intent means you didn't try to do it.
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by disneydude View Post
    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.
    From what I read, this is only mostly right. The law in question specifically states that the defendant has to "knowingly" steal an identity. I have not read the whole ruling, but the from what I have read so far on it, the word "knowingly" in the law is the issue. With the law worded as it is, SCOTUS had no choice in how they ruled, which is why it was an actual unanimous decision. They did not to my knowledge rule on the global issue on whether the law could be changed to take out the word "knowingly" and then prosecute some one who unknowingly stole an identity by using a random number SSN.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    If you posses more than a certain amount they automatically charge you with intent to distribute even though they have no evidence proving as such.
    Apples and oranges, actually.

    The intent to distribute is presumed by statute from the quantity itself. No further evidence is needed.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by ADK_Forever View Post
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    Re: Supreme Court Rules Against Government in Identity-Theft Case

    Quote Originally Posted by celticlord View Post
    Intent is not a requisite element of every crime. Under the felony murder rule, for example, if a person dies of a heart attack while being held up at gunpoint, the mugger is still a murderer despite not having formed an intent to kill.

    In the particulars of the specific identity theft law under scrutiny, one of the requisite elements of the crime is that the person "knowingly" use another person's SSN. That creates a burden on the prosecution to show that the defendant used the SSN knowing that it had been assigned to another person--that there was intent to steal another person's identity.

    Perhaps the defendant did have such knowledge. That is not impossible. However, if the evidence presented does not establish that he had such knowledge, the only legally correct verdict is "not guilty" on the specific crime of identity theft, as the statute is currently constructed.

    If the construction of the statute is flawed as a matter of public policy, then it is up to the legislature to modify the statute to remove intent as a requisite element of the offense.


    Not likely. The Supreme Court basically said the prosecution screwed the pooch by charging the wrong crime and/or failing to prove the crime charged. Sucky day for the prosecution, but the moral of the story is prosecutors need to do their homework.
    Sigh, you are posting faster, and with better information than me here...

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    In your scenario above it wouldn't be more but involuntary manslaughter because even though your doing a despicable act you had no intent to kill.
    Again, it goes to statutory construction. By law, if a person dies during the commission of a crime, the person committing the crime is guilty of murder, not involuntary manslaughter.

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