People v. Debranche

Criminal Practice

New York Law Journal


Judge Robert Mandelbaum

Defendants were charged with identity theft. They moved for dismissal of the accusatory instrument alleging facial insufficiency. The information alleged defendants opened a cellular account in the name of Avi Natanov and a complaining witness stated neither defendants' real names matched that of Natanov. The court stated a person commits identity theft when he knowingly and with an intent to defraud assumes the identity of another by presenting himself as that person. It noted that "another person" means a real, identified person who actually exists, an actual victim. Thus, while opening a credit line in another's name constitutes identity theft, opening one using a false name—an alias—does not. Hence, as the sole allegations were that defendants opened an account in Natanov's name, which was not the real name of either defendant, and in the absence of any evidentiary facts that Natanov was a real person whose identity was improperly assumed by defendants, the court ruled the information failed to establish every element of identity theft and granted defendants' motion to dismiss.

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