State v. Evans

The Facts

The defendant, Evans, committed second degree identity theft by forging his name on a stolen business check and then cashing the check.

Procedural History

The Supreme Court of the State of Washington affirmed judgment of the initial trial court.


Under Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.04.110(17) “a person” denotes a natural person as well as a corporation. Both of the categories of persons are protected under  Wash. Rev. Code § 9.35.020 from the substantial harms caused by identity theft, whether in the form of stolen checks, fraudulent loans, or many other ways identity theft can be committed.

The Issue

(a) Whether the trial court erred by convicting the defendant of identity theft.

(b) Whether the identity theft statute of the State of Washington was unconstitutionally vague.

The Holding/Reasoning

The Supreme Court of the State of Washington stated that if there are more than one interpretation of the wording of a statute is reasonable possible because of its ambiguity, a court must then engage in statutory construction and look to legislative history in order to discern legislative intent.

The court determined that “the rule of lenity did not apply because the “living or dead” language of the identity theft statute had to be interpreted to describe corporations as well as natural persons in light of the legislative history of the statute… The identity theft statute was not void for vagueness because it provided fair warning that theft of a corporate identity could be punished as a crime and because it provided sufficiently objective standards for purposes of enforcement… The statute provides fair warning that theft of a corporate identity can be punished as a crime.”

Comments are closed.