Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flores-Figueroa v. United States case brief

Flores-Figueroa v. United States

Ignacio Flores-Figueroa is a citizen of Mexico who gave his employer a false name/birth date/social security number as well as a counterfeit alien registration card in order to secure employment.
-Six years later he gave his employer new card with his real name, but the numbers on the old cards were assigned to other people. He was convicted on two counts of aggravated identity theft in a federal district court and sentenced to 75 months imprisonment.
-On appeal, he argued that his conviction was in error because the government did not prove he knew the identification he possessed belonged to another person. 

-The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected this argument and affirmed the trial court’s decision. 
-It held the government need not prove Mr. Flores-Figueroa knew the identification he possessed belonged to another person.


In order to prove aggravated identity theft, does the government need to prove the defendant knew the identification he possessed belonged to another person?


Petitioner argues that the statute requires that the Government prove that he knew that the “means of identification” belonged to someone else/was a means of identification of another person.


Yes. The Supreme Court held that the government needs to prove that the defendant "knew" that the identification he possessed belonged to another person. The Court reasoned that ordinary grammar indicates that "knowingly" should be read to apply to all subsequently listed elements of the crime in the relevant statute.
The Court should distinguish between those cases where it should infer a mens rea requirement when Congress has not addressed it within the statute, and those cases when Congress has intentionally limited the mens rea requirement to particular elements of the relevant crime.

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