McNair v. State

757 S.E.2d 141 (2014)

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McNair v. State

Georgia Court of Appeals
757 S.E.2d 141 (2014)

Facts

Todd McNair (defendant) stole credit cards out of the victim’s purse. McNair then proceeded to use the victim’s credit cards to make purchases without the victim’s consent. The State of Georgia (plaintiff) criminally charged McNair under Georgia’s identity-fraud statute, alleging that McNair had willfully possessed and intended to use the victim’s financial-transaction-card numbers, meaning credit-card numbers, without the victim’s consent. McNair was convicted after a jury trial. At the sentencing hearing, McNair, citing to the rule of lenity, argued that he should be assigned the lesser sentence available under the financial-transaction-card-theft statute because the financial-transaction-card-theft statute and the identity-fraud statute both applied but the two statutes provided different degrees of punishment for the same offense. The trial court disagreed and sentenced McNair under the identity-fraud statute. On appeal, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed. McNair then appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which reversed and remanded to the court of appeals with instructions for the court of appeals to determine whether the identity-fraud statute and the financial-transaction-card-theft statute created an ambiguity by providing different degrees of punishment for McNair’s criminal conduct. If so, the court of appeals was instructed to apply the rule of lenity and assign McNair the lesser sentence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dillard, J.)

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