United States v. Ye

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 07-10-2015
  • Case #: 12-10576
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Friedland for the Court; Circuit Judges Clifton and N. Randy Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

A conviction for providing false information in a passport application does not require specific intent; the party need only willfully and knowingly supply an untrue statement.

In September 2011, Aifang Ye and her husband, Xigao Cheng, traveled to Saipan on tourist visas. Both are Chinese citizens. Cheng returned to China that month while Ye remained. She gave birth to their second daughter in February 2012. That child was eligible for an United States passport if both parents applied in person or if one parent applied in person with a notarized affidavit from the absent parent. Ye and Cheng desired a United States passport for their newborn, but did not want to draw attention to the birth of a second child. Ye traveled with her husband’s brother, Zhenyan Cheng, to the application office where Zhenyan showed Cheng’s passport and signed as the child’s father, using his brother’s name. Zhenyan was arrested and Ye voluntarily provided a statement. Ye and Zhenyan were both charged with conspiracy to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1542, which prohibits providing false information for obtaining a passport or using a passport obtained with falsified information. Ye was also charged with aiding and abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1542. Following a jury trial, Ye was convicted of both counts. Ye appealed, arguing that the jury instructions should have included a specific intent requirement. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that a conviction for providing false information in a passport application does not require specific intent; the party need only willfully and knowingly supply an untrue statement. Here, by Ye’s own admission, she and Zhenyan sought to procure a passport for her daughter using falsified information regarding the baby’s father’s identity. AFFIRMED.

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