United States v. Osuna-Alvarez

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 06-10-2015
  • Case #: 13-50636
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam Circuit Judges Noonan, Wardlaw, and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

A person who uses the identity of another person commits identity theft regardless if they had the other person's permission.

At the boarder of Mexico and California, Miguel Osuna-Alvarez ("Osuna") presented to Customs and Border Protection personnel a U.S. passport of his twin brother, Hector Alejandro Osuna-Alvarez. Soon after, Osuna was arrested when Customs and Boarder Protection personnel uncovered packages of illegal drugs inside Osuna's air-conditioning unit of his vehicle. In his post-arrest interview, Osuna confessed his true identity, but stated he had Hector's permission to use his passport. As a result, Osuan was charged with aggravated identify theft. At trial, Osuna argued that since he had permission to use Hector's passport, it was not identify theft. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirms the lower court, reasoning that Osuna knowingly used someone else's identification "without lawful authority" because he falsely identified himself as a United States citizen. Specifically, the panel uses Blacks' Law Dictionary to define "lawful," to mean "[n]ot contrary to the law." Therefore, although Osuna had Hector's "authority" to use the passport, there was no "lawful authority" to do so. AFFIRMED.

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