Friday, March 07, 2008

Fourth Circuit holds that to be convicted of aggravated indentity theft a defendant must assume the identity of a specific person

In UNITED STATES v. MITCHELL, Mitchell used a false driver’s license and counterfeit checks in the name of Marcus Jackson to buy merchandise and return it for cash refunds. He was convicted of aggravated identity theft. Mitchell argued that the district court erred when it held as a matter of law that the use of another person’s name by itself constitutes the use of a means of identification of another person (a specific individual) under § 1028A. The Fourth Circuit agreed:

As we have said, a bare name may not be sufficiently unique — indeed, it is not likely to be sufficiently unique — to identify a specific person. That is the case here, as the undisputed evidence confirms. Two persons named Marcus Jackson have a driver’s license issued by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. The false Georgia driver’s license used by Mitchell bore the name Marcus Jackson, but that name used alone did not identify one of the real Marcus Jacksons. In other words, the name alone was not sufficient to identify a specific Marcus Jackson, as required by the statute.

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