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People v. Molina

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

February 6, 2017

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner/Cross-Respondent
v.
Daniela Molina, Respondent/Cross-Petitioner

         Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals Court of Appeals Case No. 11CA1650

         Judgment Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part

          Attorneys for Petitioner/Cross-Respondent: Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General Kevin E. McReynolds, Assistant Attorney General Denver, Colorado

          Attorneys for Respondent/Cross-Petitioner: Douglas K. Wilson, Public Defender Anne T. Amicarella, Deputy Public Defender Denver, Colorado

          OPINION

          RICE, CHIEF JUSTICE

         ¶1 This case comes to us on certiorari review of the court of appeals' unpublished opinion, People v. Molina, No. 11CA1650 (Colo.App. June 19, 2014). In this case, a jury convicted Daniela Molina of two counts of identity theft and three counts of forgery. We granted certiorari to resolve three issues: (1) whether the People must show that Molina knew she stole another person's information; (2) whether there was sufficient evidence that Molina knew she stole a real person's information; and (3) whether an apartment lease and employment qualify under the identity theft statute as "thing[s] of value." We answer all three questions in the affirmative. Therefore, we affirm in part and reverse in part the court of appeals and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         ¶2 The defendant in this case, Daniela Molina, used the last name and social security number (SSN) of another person, D.K., to obtain an apartment lease and employment.[1] A jury later convicted Molina of two counts of identity theft and three counts of forgery.

         ¶3 Molina appealed to the court of appeals, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove all the elements of identity theft and forgery. The court of appeals (1) held that the People were required to prove that Molina knew she had stolen the information of a real person; (2) held that there was insufficient evidence that Molina knew the last name and SSN she used belonged to a real person; (3) vacated her identity theft convictions; and (4) affirmed her forgery convictions. Molina, slip op. at 8-9.

         ¶4 The court of appeals declined to reach Molina's argument that the term "thing of value" in the identity theft statute only pertained to items with pecuniary value and therefore neither employment nor an apartment lease were "thing[s] of value." Id. at 9. The People and Molina both sought certiorari, which we granted.

         II. Analysis

         A. To convict a defendant of identity theft, the People must show that the defendant knew the information belonged to another person.

         ¶5 The People argue that we incorrectly decided People v. Perez, 2016 CO 12, ¶ 33, 367 P.3d 695, 702, when we held that, in order to prove identity theft, the People must show that the defendant knowingly used the identifying information of another person. Disagreeing with the People, we affirm the court of appeals' opinion on this issue.

         ¶6 Under section 18-5-902(1)(a), C.R.S. (2016), a person commits identity theft if he or she "[k]nowingly uses the personal identifying information, financial identifying information, or financial device of another without permission or lawful authority with the intent to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or any other thing of value or to make a financial payment . . . ." Under section 18-1-503(4), C.R.S. (2016), when a criminal statute prescribes a specified culpable mental state as an element, ...


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