SCOTUS: Identity Theft Must Be Intentional to Be Illegal
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled unanimously that to convict an individual for identity theft, the defendant must have known that he was using the identity of an existing person.
The case arose, at such cases usually do, in the context of an undocumented worker, Ignacio Flores-Figueroa, who submitted false documents to an employer to get a job. After his employer reported him, the government discovered that the social security number was real, only it was somebody else’s. The government charged Flores-Figheroa with entering the United States illegally, misusing immigration documents, and identity theft.
He was convicted, and Flores-Figheroa appealed the identity theft charge, claiming he didn’t know the number he had belonged to anybody at all. The court upheld the conviction anyway.
Today, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that law, which requires that the offender “knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person” means exactly that — that the offender must know that he did it.
The full opinion is here.