CRS — Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft

October 28, 2013

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense. At least thus far, the government has rarely prosecuted the five-year terrorism form of the offense. The two-year offense occurs when an individual knowingly possesses, uses, or transfers the means of identification of another person, without lawful authority to do so, during and in relation to one of more than 60 predicate federal felony offenses (18 U.S.C. 1028A). Section 1028A has the effect of establishing a mandatory minimum sentence for those predicate felony offenses, when they involve identity theft.

A sentencing court has the discretion not to “stack” or pancake multiple aggravated identity theft counts and, as with other mandatory minimums, may impose a sentence of less than the mandatory minimum at the request of the prosecution based on the defendant’s substantial assistance.

More than half of the judges responding to a United States Sentence Commission survey felt the two-year mandatory minimum penalty was generally appropriate. The Commission’s report on mandatory minimum sentencing statutes is mildly complimentary of the provision.

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