September 16, 2014

Colorado Court of Appeals: Evidence Insufficient to Prove Knowledge that Social Security Number Belonged to Someone Else in Identity Theft Case

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Perez on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Identify Theft—Criminal Impersonation—Evidence—Mens Rea.

Defendant appealed the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of identity theft and criminal impersonation. The convictions were vacated.

Defendant was charged with identity theft and criminal impersonation for using another person’s Social Security number to obtain employment. On appeal, defendant asserted that the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to sustain his identity theft convictions. The identity theft statute, CRS § 18-5-902, requires that the prosecution prove that the defendant knew the Social Security number at issue belonged to someone. The prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence of this element.

Defendant also contended that the evidence was insufficient to support his criminal impersonation conviction, because the prosecution failed to prove that he assumed a false or fictitious identity or capacity. Although there might have been evidence that the employers would not have hired defendant unless he had a Social Security number, there was no evidence that a Social Security number was legally required for employment. Thus, the evidence was not sufficient to prove defendant assumed a false capacity.

Summary and full case available here.

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