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Fake ID using own name not aggravated ID theft, 7th Circuit rules

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An Indiana man who supplied a fake identification that used the recipient’s real name may not be subjected to the federal aggravated identity theft statute, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday in a unanimous en banc decision.

At issue is whether the definition of “another person” in Section 1028A of the United States Code means anyone other than the defendant. The court warned against applying that standard; the prosecution advocated for a statute that carries an automatic two-year consecutive sentence.

“If the prosecutor is right, §1028A acquires a surprising scope,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the panel in United States of America v. Christopher Spears, 11-1683.

“It would, for example, require a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence every time a tax-return preparer claims an improper deduction, because the return is transferred to the IRS, concerns a person other than the preparer, includes a means of identifying that person (a Social Security number), and facilitates fraud against the United States (which §1028A(c)(4) lists as a predicate crime),” Easterbook wrote.

Lake County resident Christopher Spears made fake handgun carry permits, driver’s licenses and other forms of ID. He was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, of producing false identification, five counts of unlawful possession of false identification documents and aggravated identify theft.

A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit previously vacated some of those convictions but affirmed the aggravated identity theft and producing false ID convictions. Spears was sentenced to 34 months in prison, plus the two-year mandatory sentence under the ID theft conviction.

The en banc decision affirmed the prior 7th Circuit decision except for the conviction and sentence for ID theft.

“Crimes are supposed to be defined by the legislature, not by clever prosecutors riffing on equivocal language. A reasonable person reading §1028A(a)(1) would not conclude that Congress has definitely used the word “another” to specify every person other than the defendant, as opposed to a person whose information has been misappropriated,” Easterbrook wrote.

“Section 1028A, we hold, uses ‘another person’ to refer to a person who did not consent to the use of the ‘means of identification’. This decision, in conjunction with the panel’s disposition of the convictions under statutes other than §1028A, mean that two of Spears’s convictions have been reversed, while three remain. The district court’s judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded for resentencing on those three convictions.”   
 

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  1. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

  2. November, 2014, I was charged with OWI/Endangering a person. I was not given a Breathalyzer test and the arresting officer did not believe that alcohol was in any way involved. I was self-overmedicated with prescription medications. I was taken to local hospital for blood draw to be sent to State Tox Lab. My attorney gave me a cookie-cutter plea which amounts to an ALCOHOL-related charge. Totally unacceptable!! HOW can I get my TOX report from the state lab???

  3. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

  4. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  5. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

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