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Penalties for possessing or selling IDs

Published (2/11/2011)
By Mike Cook
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Worthington Police Sgt. Kevin Flynn said too often he has someone try to pass off fake identification documents as authentic.

Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder) sponsors a bill to help.

“There’s absolutely no functional purpose for Tony Cornish to have a driver’s license, a Social Security number and a birth certificate showing him to be Kevin Flynn,” Flynn said.

“We hope to be a deterrent to document vendors.”

HF152 would criminalize knowingly possessing multiple identification documents issued or purported to be issued by a local, state or federal government without permission or lawful authority, or knowingly selling or transferring multiple identification documents knowing the recipient is not entitled to obtain or possess the documents. The penalty would be a gross misdemeanor if the crime involves two IDs; if it’s three or more the crime would be a felony.

For a federal possession crime, additional circumstances must apply.

“This gives local tools to take care of things locally if the violation is state law,” Cornish said.

The bill aims to address certain limitations in current law. The penalty for identity theft is currently based on the amount of loss to the victim, and current statutes may only address certain types of documents. For example, some crimes only refer to fraudulent, but not authentic, identification documents.

Approved Feb. 3 by the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee on a split-voice vote, the bill awaits action by the House Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee.

Flynn said some people he’s encountered with fake identifications are in this country illegally.

Rep. Kerry Gauthier (DFL-Duluth) expressed concern it could appear the bill targets immigrants.

“We are kind of making it a little messy linking into enforcing immigration law, which is clearly a federal jurisdiction. I’m very uncomfortable with both of those situations,” he said.

Cornish said the bill is simply about going after people using documents illegally, not to “target a certain group of people.”

A companion, SF108, sponsored by Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-Vergas), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

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