[708-839.55] Unauthorized possession of confidential personal information. (1) A person commits the offense of unauthorized possession of confidential personal information if that person intentionally or knowingly possesses, without authorization, any confidential personal information of another in any form, including but not limited to mail, physical documents, identification cards, or information stored in digital form.

(2) It is an affirmative defense that the person who possessed the confidential personal information of another did so under the reasonable belief that the person in possession was authorized by law or by the consent of the other person to possess the confidential personal information.

(3) Unauthorized possession of confidential personal information is a class C felony. [L 2006, c 139, 2]

 

COMMENTARY ON 708-839.55

 

Act 139, Session Laws 2006, added this section to increase the protection of personal information by making it a class C felony to intentionally or knowingly possess the confidential information of another without authorization. Hawaii law enforcement has found it difficult to curb the rise in identity theft-related crimes when identity thieves in possession of personal information who have not yet caused a monetary loss to the victim cannot be prosecuted for crimes other than petty misdemeanor thefts. The legislature found that adding a law to make intentionally or knowingly possessing the confidential information of another without authorization a class C felony would help to deter identity theft crimes. Senate Standing Committee Report No. 2636, Conference Committee Report No. 111-06.

 

Case Notes

 

Defendant's conduct caused or threatened the harm or evil sought to be prevented by this section where defendant had been in possession of complainant's confidential personal information since an unspecified time when the two were neighbors and had used the information to attempt to avoid arrest on two known occasions. Had defendant not been arrested, defendant would have had a continuing opportunity to utilize complainant's confidential personal information; accordingly, defendant's possession of complainant's confidential personal information implicated the precise harm the legislature sought to avoid in enacting this section. 129 H. 172, 297 P.3d 188 (2013).

Where the plain, obvious, and unambiguous meaning of this section merely requires intentional or knowing unauthorized possession of confidential personal information and there is no statutory language requiring that the confidential personal information actually be used to impersonate another person in order to constitute the offense, and to require "impersonation" would be contrary to the legislature's manifest intent to criminalize mere unauthorized possession, the circuit court erred in its construction of this section. 125 H. 172 (App.), 254 P.3d 483 (2011).

 

 

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