Friday, December 11, 2009

You also have to prove how much it's worth

Washburn student intern Katie Whitsitt and I won in State v. Reed, No. 101,165 (Kan. App. Dec. 11, 2009)(unpublished), obtaining a new trial in a Reno County criminal damage to property case. Ms. Reed was alleged to have thrown a hammer at a 2006 Chevy Silverado pickup truck, causing damage estimated by a shop to be $1,165.64. The COA agreed that to establish felony criminal damage to property (damage over $1,000), the state had to show that the property damaged was worth at least $1,000.
Reviewing the record with care, we find that the evidence supporting a value of the damaged truck consisted of its make and model (Chevy Silverado pickup), its vintage (2006), its mileage (37,000), and its condition from photos (appears in good condition).
On this record, the COA held that there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that the truck was worth $1,000 or more. But the COA also held that "given the rather scant evidence of value and the defense argument that [value] had not been established" the district court should have given a requested instruction for misdemeanor criminal damage to property. As a result, Ms. Reed gets a new trial.

I think this is sort of an interesting result. Are jurors really expected to just "know" the fair market value of a vehicle. I wonder at what point the record would be insufficient in the COA's mind: a 2005 truck? a 2000 truck? a 2006 truck with 100,000 miles? a 2004 truck with 75,000 miles? Maybe it's just one of those "you know it when you see it" holdings.

[Update: neither party filed a PR and the mandate issued on January 14, 2010.]

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