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Testimony showed intent in identity deception

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During a trial for identity deception, a court correctly admitted evidence under Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b) of the defendant's prior interaction with the victim of his identity theft and previous instances of using the victim's information, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded today.

In Andrew G. Prairie v. State of Indiana, No. 29A02-0811-CR-985, Andrew Prairie was arrested and charged with identity deception as a Class D felony after he used David Hutchinson's personal information for billing at a hospital. Prairie had outstanding warrants and told police he used a fictitious person's information to avoid being caught; Prairie had actually been friends with Hutchinson in the past and once stayed at his home. That's how he obtained the needed information to use Hutchinson's identity.

The state filed a motion under Evid. R. 404(b) to use evidence of Prairie's prior relationship with Hutchinson and the testimony that Prairie had used Hutchinson's information to get a credit card and ATM card for Hutchinson's bank account. The trial court granted the motion that the evidence of prior bad acts wasn't too remote and it was probative on the question of the relationship between the two.

During opening statements, defense counsel said they didn't believe the state could show Prairie had intent to harm or defraud. The trial judge had considered later not admitting the evidence based on Iqbal v. State, 805 N.E.2d 401 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), but because defense counsel put the question of specific intent into question at trial, the judge allowed the evidence to be admitted. The jury convicted him on the charge. 

Prairie argued it was an error to allow the state to introduce that evidence under Evid. R. 404(b). The evidence was admitted under the intent exception set out in the rule, and is allowed when a defendant affirmatively presents a claim of particular contrary intent, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

The probative value of the evidence in question outweighs the prejudicial impact of the evidence, the appellate court ruled. In the instant case, the evidence was introduced to show Prairie didn't intend to avoid arrest but to defraud Hutchinson. Intent to defraud is an element of the offense of identity deception.

In making his statement to police about using made-up information, Prairie implied to the detective that he didn't think Hutchinson existed, which is clearly not true, wrote the judge. Hutchinson's testimony about the relationship and prior identity theft was relevant in that it was probative on the question of Prairie's intent in providing false information to the hospital for billing purposes.

"Although there is certainly at least a theoretical risk that the jury could conclude under these circumstances that Prairie was guilty this time because he had done something similar to Hutchinson before, we find this risk is outweighed by the fact that Hutchinson's testimony makes the existence of the intent element of the crime charged more probable than it would be without Hutchinson's testimony," wrote Judge Friedlander.

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  1. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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