NM Court of Appeals: State may prosecute identity theft occurring entirely in other states, where victim is in New Mexico

Christopher Allen was convicted of stealing the identity of a New Mexico resident, and using it to obtain an Arizona driver’s license, to rent cars in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, and provided the stolen identity as his own when he was arrested in Georgia. None of his acts were committed in New Mexico.

In an interesting discussion of the territorial limits of a state’s criminal jurisdiction, the New Mexico Court of Appeals held on Monday that New Mexico does have jurisdiction over the defendant because the effects of his crimes were felt here (this is called the “detrimental effects” theory of jurisdiction). The Court also held that New Mexico does not have to enact a statute specifically authorizing the State to exercise this jurisdiction.

The opinion is State v. Allen, a unanimous decision written by Judge Michael Vigil. It also contains a useful discussion of the difference between jurisdiction and venue.

So if any out-of-staters are thinking of committing crimes against a New Mexican, think again, because you can run, but you can’t hide.

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