March 11, 2008
Fourth Circuit Narrowly Interprets Identity Theft Statute
Defendant uses the name "Marcus Jackson," a fake ID in the form of a driver's license, and some fake checks to buy stuff and then turn it in for refunds. Identity theft?
No says the Fourth Circuit in U.S. v. Mitchell, __ F.3d __ (4th Cir. 2008). The problem? There was no "Marcus Jackson" at the address specified on the checks or license, and the only "Marcus Jacksons" in Georgia had different middle names than the license indicated. The Fourth Circuit held that 18 USC 1028 did not apply because he had not stolen the identity of a specific individual, and reversed a 40 month sentence.
Sounds wrong, but when you read the case, the language of the statute suggests it's the right result, in my opinion. I never wold have guessed it, though! Interesting, thoughtful unanimous opinion by Judge Michael.
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