By Priscilla Carlson, STATE BILL COLORADO
A recent controversial decision by the Colorado Supreme Court has prompted newly elected state Rep. Mark Barker, R-Colorado Springs, to file HB11-1049, titled “Use of Personal Info to Defraud.” The bill was filed Jan. 12, and its intent is to clarify the statutory language involving identity theft following the recent high court decision involving Felix Montes-Rodriguez.
Montes-Rodriguez was convicted of criminal impersonation based on his use of a false social security number on an application for an automobile loan, and he admitted to using the false social security number. However, he contested the charge. He argued that he did not assume a false identity or capacity under the statute because he applied for the loan using his proper name, birth date, address, and other identifying information.
A jury returned a guilty verdict, and Colorado’s appeals court upheld the conviction. But Colorado’s high court reversed, ruling Montes-Rodriguez “neither assumed a false capacity nor a false identity in violation of the statute.” Conservatives expressed dismay with the decision.
Barker said the justices’ explanations for their decision made it clear that there were issues with the wording of the law and whether the defendant “knowingly” used false information. His bill would change the language so that there is a clearer definition, taking out the word “knowingly” and making any fraudulent use of identifying information that does not belong to the person a criminal act.
An attorney and former law enforcement officer, Barker hopes the bill gives law enforcement officers the ability to better do their jobs and be in compliance with the courts, avoiding the possibility of future overturned cases.
Currently, there is no Senate sponsor. Barker attributes that to not having the time in the new legislative session to talk with people about the bill. The Colorado District Attorney Council and law enforcement agencies back the measure, he said.
It is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is on the calendar for Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 1:30 p.m.