The N.C. Supreme Court has split into three groups in a Mecklenburg County identity theft case involving two defendants.

The majority opinion authored by Justice Barbara Jackson affirms a ruling from the N.C. Court of Appeals. That appellate ruling has two parts. First, one defendant is guilty of identity theft. Second, indictments must be thrown out for obtaining property by false pretenses (the first defendant) and trafficking in stolen identities (the second defendant).

Only three of the seven Supreme Court justices agree with both parts of that appellate ruling. Justices Robin Hudson and Cheri Beasley dissented from the first part of the ruling. They believe the identity theft charge also should have been dismissed.

Meanwhile, Justices Mark Martin and Paul Newby dissented from the second part of the ruling as it applies to the trafficking in stolen identity charges. They believe the majority was wrong to extend a common-law rule for indictments in this case.

So the different interpretations lead to a 5-2 split, with different justices making up the majority and the dissenters depending on the issue under discussion.