McNair v. State

745 S.E.2d 646 (2013)

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McNair v. State

Georgia Supreme Court
745 S.E.2d 646 (2013)

Facts

[Editor’s Note: The casebook The Legislative Process, Statutory Interpretation, and Administrative Agencies (Linda D. Jellum ed., 2d ed. 2021) erroneously gives the citation of this case as “735 S.E.2d 646.” The correct citation is “745 S.E.2d 646.”] Todd McNair (defendant) was convicted by the State of Georgia (plaintiff) on felony identity-fraud charges for stealing and using the victim’s credit card. At the sentencing hearing, McNair argued that the rule of lenity applied because there were two criminal statutes, namely the identity-fraud statute and the financial-transaction-card-theft statute (card-theft statute), that imposed different felony punishments for McNair’s misconduct. Because the card-theft statute imposed a lesser punishment than the identity-theft statute, McNair argued that the rule of lenity mandated that the lesser punishment be the punishment imposed. The trial court rejected McNair’s argument and sentenced McNair under the identity-fraud statute. McNair appealed, and the appellate court affirmed, holding that the rule of lenity did not apply because McNair would be charged with a felony under either statute. McNair appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Benham, J.)

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