Date: June 8, 2004
House Committee on the Judiciary Approves H.R. 1731, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act
On May 12, 2004, the House Committee on the Judiciary marked-up and ordered to be reported H.R. 1731, the "Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act". Similar language passed the Senate unanimously last year on March 19, 2003 as S. 153 (See Legislative Bulletin 108-3).
H.R. 1731 would establish penalties for aggravated identify theft, i.e., identity theft in connection with the commission of a felony. As reported by the House Judiciary Committee, H.R. 1731 includes the following provisions of interest to SSA:
Prescribe a sentence of two years' imprisonment for knowingly transferring, possessing, or using, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person during and in relation to specified felony convictions, including (1) violations of 18 U.S.C. 641 (relating to theft of public money, property, or rewards) and (2) violations relating to sections 208, 811, and 1632 of the Social Security Act, relating to the Social Security, Supplemental Veterans' Benefits, and SSI programs.
With regard to a conviction under 18 U.S.C. 641, provide for aggregating the amounts from all counts for which a defendant is convicted in a single case. Present law provides for a maximum prison term of one year when the value of the subject property does not exceed $1,000. Since some courts do not combine the value of the amounts from all counts in imposing sentence, the proposed change would facilitate the imposition of longer prison sentences by those courts.
Prohibit a court from (1) placing any person convicted of such a violation on probation; (2) reducing any sentence for the related felony to take into account the sentence imposed for such a violation; or (3) providing for concurrent terms of imprisonment for a violation of this Act and any other violation, except, in the court's discretion, an additional violation of this section.
Expand the existing identity theft prohibition to: (1) cover possession of a means of identification of another with intent to commit specified unlawful activity; (2) increase penalties for violations; and (3) include acts of domestic terrorism within the scope of a prohibition against facilitating an act of international terrorism.