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May 4, 2009

Unanimous SCOTUS win for defendant in Flores-Figueroa

Providing a notable contrast to last week's ruling in Dean (basics here), today the Supreme Court vindicates a federal defendant's mens rea claim in the interpretation of an identity-fraud statute.  Here are the basics from SCOTUSblog:

The Court has released the opinion in Flores-Figueroa v. United States(08-108). The decision below, which held for the United States, is reversed in a 9-0 opinion by Justice Breyer, available here. Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in part and in the judgment, joined by Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in part and in the judgment.

And here is the first paragraph from Justice Breyer's opinion in Flores-Figueroa (emphasis in the original):

A federal criminal statute forbidding “[a]ggravatedidentity theft” imposes a mandatory consecutive 2-year prison term upon individuals convicted of certain other crimes if, during (or in relation to) the commission of those other crimes, the offender “knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person.” 18 U. S. C. §1028A(a)(1) (emphasis added).  The question is whether the statute requires the Government to show that the defendant knew that the “means of identification” he or she unlawfully transferred,possessed, or used, in fact, belonged to “another person.”  We conclude that it does.

May 4, 2009 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

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Comments

So knowingly means knowingly. Way to read a statute, federal appellate courts.

Posted by: Anon | May 4, 2009 11:56:54 AM

Too bad there's no mandatory minimum sentence for prosecutors who knowingly stack bogus charges on struggling poor people guilty of little more than seeking a better life in America.

Posted by: John K | May 5, 2009 4:59:28 PM

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