Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zuniga-Artega: Aggravated Identity Theft Can Involve Dead Person

In U.S. v. Zuniga-Arteaga, No. 11-673 (May 21, 2012), the Court held that aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1) can involve the identity of a person who is no longer living.
The statute makes it a crime to use a "means of identification of another person." The Court noted that the word "person" had no "definitive legal meaning." But the context of the use of the word indicated that the statute did not mean to distinguish between the living and the dead. The statute also criminalized use of a "false identification document," conduct that can involve a dead person. In addition, use of the identification of a dead person "has very real consequences for the living, such as the beneficiaries of the decedents."