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7th Circuit affirms in part man’s convictions for producing fake documents

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There is enough evidence to support two of the three convictions of an East Chicago man stemming from his making and selling various counterfeit documents, but photocopies in his possession cannot support his conviction of unlawful possession of five or more false identification documents.

Christopher Spears was sentenced to 34 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release after being found guilty at trial of fraud during an attempted purchase of firearms, aggravated identity theft, producing false identification documents, possession of false identity documents with unlawful intent, and possession of an instrument designed to make a forged security. On appeal, he only challenges the aggravated identity theft, producing false identification documents, and possession of false identity documents convictions.

Spears sold Tirsah Payne a fraudulent handgun-carry permit that contained her actual identification information. Payne could not lawfully possess a gun. When Payne used the fake permit to attempt to buy a gun, the store became suspicious and reported it to the authorities. This led to Spears’ arrest and discovery of other fake documents.

In United States of America v. Christopher Spears, 11-1683, the 7th Circuit affirmed the conviction of aggravated identity theft. Spears argued that it couldn’t be identity theft if he used Payne’s actual information. His conduct falls within the literal terms of the statute because he “knowingly transfer[ed] … without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person” during or in relation to a predicate felony. His conviction of fraud during an attempted purchase of firearms relates to Payne’s attempt to buy a gun.

The judges affirmed his conviction of producing a false identification document, as the fake driver’s license underlying this count is sufficiently realistic that a reasonable jury could conclude that it appeared to be issued by the state of Indiana.

His conviction of unlawful possession of five or more false identification documents was reversed because, of the six pieces of evidence introduced to support this charge, only one would qualify. Two were photocopies of alleged fake driver’s licenses and three others were so clearly unprofessional that they do not appear to be issued by the state, the court held.

The judges remanded for resentencing.

 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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