Utah Supreme Court Rules on Identity Fraud Law
What is Utah Identity Fraud?
Under Utah Code 76-6-1102, identity fraud occurs when a person obtains personal identifying information of another person whether that person is alive or deceased and knowingly or intentionally uses, or attempts to use, that information with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, employment, any other thing of value, or medical information. Identity fraud is a second degree felony.
State v. Rincon
In a recent Utah Supreme Court case the appellate court reversed Manuel Rincon’s conviction for identity fraud because the state did not prove that Rincon had “obtained” the personal identification of another. The court found that the word “obtain” means that there was (1) some planned action or effort and that it was (2) related to an external source.
Rincon had simply made up a 9 digit number to use as his social security number and used that created number for a number of years. It turns out that the number he made up actually belonged to somebody in Arizona. The Supremes found that Rincon’s mere thinking up a number did not satisfy the plain meaning of the word “obtain” as contemplated by the statute because “thinking a thought is very different from purchasing, reading, looking for, stealing, digging up, or foraging for something” and because Rincon did not get the information from an external source, e.g., another person.
The Future of Utah Identity Fraud
With the Rincon decision a lot comes into question with the Utah identity fraud statute. For example, from this decision it appears that the only thing a defendant needs to do is claim that he made the number up and that acts as an affirmative defense against the crime. Thus, we predict that the Utah Legislature will change the law to include any form of identity fraud, including fraud effected by making up a social security number. In the meantime, identity fraud defendants have a golden defense.
If you have been charged with identity fraud in Utah call our criminal defense attorneys at 801.413.1753 for a free consultation. Let our law firm put our legal prowess to work for you.