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10/19/70 United States of America v. Willard F. Moore

October 19, 1970

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

v.

WILLARD F. MOORE, APPELLANT 1970.CDC.234 DATE DECIDED: OCTOBER 19, 1970



Wright, MacKinnon and Wilkey, Circuit Judges.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

APPELLATE PANEL:

PER CURIAM DECISION

Appellant was convicted of both counts of an indictment charging false pretenses and grand larceny. On appeal he alleges plain error by the trial court (1) in failing in its instruction to the jury to define specific intent when both crimes of which appellant was convicted require such a finding; (2) in instructing the jury that "it may be inferred that one intends the natural and probable consequences of his act, but you are not required to so infer"; and (3) in failing to instruct the jury that intoxication could negate the specific intent essential to a finding of guilt. *fn1 We affirm.

While the Government concedes that the offenses of which appellant was convicted require proof of specific intent, the trial judge failed to use the phrase "specific intent" in his instructions. Instruction No. 42 of Criminal Jury Instructions for the District of Columbia (1966) defines intent and explains the critical difference between general and specific intent as follows:

"Intent means that a person had the purpose to do a thing; it means that he made an act of the will to do the thing; it means that the thing was done consciously and voluntarily and not inadvertently or accidentally.

"Some criminal offenses require only a general intent. Where this is so, and it is shown that a person has knowingly committed an act which the law makes a crime, intent may be inferred from the doing of the act.

"Other offenses require a specific intent. Specific intent requires more than a mere general intent to engage in certain conduct or to do certain acts. A person who knowingly does an act which the law forbids, intending with bad purpose either to disobey or disregard the law, may be found to act with specific intent."

This is a correct statement of the law which, if given, would have eliminated the specific intent issue from this case. The trial court, however, did give an adequate instruction on the intent necessary to convict appellant of the crimes of false pretenses and grand larceny. *fn2 Under the circumstances, and in view of appellant's failure to except to the charge, we find no error requiring reversal.

Appellant also challenges the trial court's instructions insofar as they permit the jury to infer, in a specific intent crime, that one intends the natural and probable consequences of his acts. Counsel refers to several Circuit Court cases which criticize this instruction as "an invitation to reversal." *fn3 Counsel also points out that, in the cases where the charge is criticized, the charge included the requirement that the defendant's acts be "knowingly done or knowingly omitted" before any inference of intention arises. The charge here does not even include this language.

In a specific intent case, a charge that a person ordinarily intends the natural and probable consequences of his acts may be misleading. Certainly if given, the charge should contain the crucial words "knowingly done or knowingly omitted," as indicated by the Criminal Jury Instructions for the District of Columbia. *fn4 Here these words did not accompany the charge, but no exception was taken thereto. Under the circumstances, and considering the charge as a whole, *fn5 we find no plain error.

Finally, appellant urges trial court error in failing to instruct the jury that intoxication could negate the specific intent essential to a finding of guilt. In a proper case, such an instruction would be required, even without a request, where sufficient evidence of intoxication was adduced. *fn6 But here the only evidence of intoxication on the part of appellant related to the evening before the offense. The evidence does suggest that appellant at the time of the crime was suffering from a hangover. We know of no authority, however, which holds that such a condition precludes the possibility of specific intent.

Affirme ...


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