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.

Colorado Court of Appeals: No Hearsay Exception Applied to Allow Introduction of Defendant’s Self-Serving Out-of-Court Statements

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued People v. Zubiate on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Driving After Revocation Prohibited—Driving While Ability Impaired—Driving Under Restraint—Hearsay—Merger—Lesser Included Offense.

Defendant appealed her convictions entered following a jury trial for aggravated driving after revocation prohibited (aggravated DARP) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI). She also appealed her driving under restraint (DUR) conviction entered following her guilty plea to that offense, and the sentence imposed. The convictions were affirmed.

Defendant contended that the trial court erred in excluding an out-of-court statement concerning her fear of needles and, consequently, deprived her of her constitutional right to present evidence in her own defense. Specifically, defendant argued that the court erred in excluding her statement to Officer Rayside concerning her fear of needles because it was (1) offered for a non-hearsay purpose, (2) a statement against interest, and (3) a statement concerning her state of mind. Here, the statement was relevant only if it was offered for the truth of the matter asserted—namely, that defendant feared needles. Accordingly, it was hearsay. Because defendant’s statement was self-serving and the prosecution did not introduce evidence that defendant refused the test, none of the hearsay exceptions applied.

Defendant also contended that her DARP and DUR convictions should merge because DUR is a lesser included offense of DARP. The offenses do not merge, however, because proving the DARP elements does not necessarily establish DUR. DUR applies to offenses committed only on public ways. DARP, in contrast, does not require that the driver operate the vehicle on a highway. Accordingly, DARP is not limited to the highway and applies to private ways, as well. Because DUR requires proof of an additional fact that DARP does not—namely that a motor vehicle was driven on a highway—DUR is not a lesser included offense of DARP. Furthermore, because one could operate a vehicle without necessarily driving it, the offenses do not merge under the strict elements test. Therefore, DUR is not a lesser included offense of DARP. Accordingly, defendant’s convictions and sentences for both offenses do not merge.

Summary and full case available here.