Wednesday, March 29, 2006

No Intent Requirement for Aggravated ID Conviction

US v. Montejo: Montejo was convicted under 18 USC 1028A(a)(1) for aggravated identity theft. The conviction stems from Montejo's purchase of a fake Social Security card and fake Alien Registration Number when he illegally entered the country. He later used those documents to secure employment in Norfolk, Virginia. Unknown to Montejo, the number on the Social Security Card and the Alien Registry Number he purchased already belonged to other (separate) people. Having pleaded guilty to two predicate ID theft offenses, Montejo argued that he was not guilty of aggravated ID theft due to his lack of intent to use "a means of identification of another person." The district court disagreed and convicted Montejo (after a bench trial) and imposed the mandatory two-year sentence (consecutive to sentences on the other counts).

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed. Examining the language of the statute, the court held that the word "knowingly" did not modify "means of identification of another person." The court analogized this statute to 21 USC 861(a)(3), to which the court reached the same conclusion with similar language in US v. Cook, 76 F.3d 596 (4th Cir. 1996).

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