September 21, 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: Multiple Counts of Identity Theft Proper for Multiple Instances with Same Victim

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Allman on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

Identity Theft—Forgery—Theft from an At-Risk Adult—Merger—Sentence—Concurrent—Probation.

Using an alias, Allman presented himself to the victim as a businessman who had recently moved from Washington to Colorado. Allman moved into the victim’s basement, gained her trust, and when the victim left on vacation, Allman accessed the victim’s bank accounts and stole money from them. Allman also opened several credit cards in the victim’s name, moved out of her home, took her car, and obtained over $40,000 of credit in her name. Allman was convicted of eight counts of identity theft, two counts of forgery, one count of aggravated motor vehicle theft, and one count of theft from an at-risk adult. He was sentenced consecutively for some counts and concurrently for others.

On appeal, Allman argued that the convictions for identity theft are unconstitutionally multiplicitous and must merge into one conviction and sentence for that offense because identity theft is a continuing crime where, as here, the identity of only one victim has been stolen. The Colorado Court of Appeals concluded that the crime of identity theft under C.R.S. § 18-5-902(1)(a) is not a continuing course of conduct and, therefore, each discrete act of identity theft under that subsection is a separately chargeable offense.

Allman also appealed a number of sentencing issues. He first contended that his sentences for the identity theft counts should merge. The court rejected this argument based on its finding that identity theft is not a continuing crime. Second, Allman alternatively contended that the identity theft sentences should run concurrently because they are based on identical evidence. Because Allman’s eight convictions for identity theft were based on factually distinct evidence, the trial court was not required to impose concurrent sentences. Third, he argued that his sentence for two counts of forgery should run concurrently to each other and to one of his sentences for identity theft because he used the same credit card for all three offenses. The record is clear that neither forgery offense is factually identical to the other, nor is either of them factually identical to the identity theft count. Thus the trial court was not required to impose concurrent sentences for these offenses. Fourth, Allman argued that he was illegally sentenced to both the custody of the Department of Corrections and probation. Where, as here, a court sentences a defendant for multiple offenses in the same case, it may, within its discretion and subject to statutory limitations, impose imprisonment for certain offenses and probation for others, including probation consecutively to a period of incarceration. Fifth, Allman contended that his sentence for theft from an at-risk adult should run concurrently to his other sentences because the jury was not required to make a specific finding regarding exactly what Allman stole from the victim as the basis for that count. Under the circumstances of this case, the sentencing court was not required to order a concurrent sentence for the theft conviction.

The judgment and sentence were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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