3 A.3d 293 (Del.Fam.Ct. 2009), I.D. 0901022199, State v. Brooke

Docket Nº:I.D. 0901022199.
Citation:3 A.3d 293
Opinion Judge:HENRIKSEN, J.
Party Name:STATE of Delaware, Plaintiff, v. Jack BROOKE, Defendant.
Attorney:Carole Davis, Esquire, Delaware Department of Justice, Georgetown, DE, Attorney for the State of Delaware. Jack Brooke, pro se.
Case Date:October 09, 2009
Court:Family Court of Delaware
 
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Page 293

3 A.3d 293 (Del.Fam.Ct. 2009)

STATE of Delaware, Plaintiff,

v.

Jack BROOKE, Defendant.

I.D. No. 0901022199.

Family Court of Delaware, Sussex.

October 9, 2009

Submitted: Aug. 27, 2009.

Page 294

Carole Davis, Esquire, Delaware Department of Justice, Georgetown, DE, Attorney for the State of Delaware.

Jack Brooke, pro se.

OPINION

HENRIKSEN, J.

This is the Court's decision concerning restitution owed by the juvenile defendant in the above referenced matter. The State is seeking $57.90 restitution on behalf of Ronald Jenkins for out of pocket expenses related to damage of his motor vehicle.1 The State is also seeking $256.00 on behalf of Ronald Jenkins' wife, Debbie Jenkins, for wages she lost for having to attend and testify at trial.

Although the defendant has not objected to how the amounts of restitution were calculated or whether it would be unreasonable to require the defendant to pay those amounts, the defendant has sought much broader and more extensive relief in his motion to " Dismiss all charges/Vacate the Conviction" (" Motion to Dismiss" ) and his motion for the " Denial of Restitution," both filed on August 27, 2009. Indeed, Defendant, by these motions, seeks to have his adjudications vacated, or, as an alternative, to be relieved of any obligation to pay restitution.

Facts and History

Defendant threw a wooden board through the back window of a Toyota Corolla, thereby shattering the window of the vehicle driven by the teenage son of Ronald and Debbie Jenkins, Mark Jenkins. The Defendant's reckless act fortunately did not cause any serious injury to a young lady seated in the back seat of the vehicle, but it did result in the defendant's adjudication of Reckless Endangering and Criminal Mischief. During the June 26, 2009 trial, Debbie Jenkins testified that she owned the car that was damaged. Following the Defendant's adjudication on this charge, the Court sentenced the Defendant. The sentence required the Defendant to pay restitution in an amount to be subsequently determined.

On July 29, 2009, the State filed a " Motion to Amend the Sentence" and attached necessary documentation for determining the correct amount of restitution to be ordered. The documentation demonstrated that the vehicle that was damaged during the crime was titled in the sole name of Ronald Jenkins. However, as already noted, Ronald Jenkins' wife, Debbie Jenkins, testified that she owned the damaged vehicle. Ronald Jenkins did not testify at trial.

Law and Application

Defendant's two motions focus on this technical difference between the actual title ownership in the name of one individual, as opposed to the broader rights of

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ownership, such as in this case, where an automobile used by several members in a family happens to be titled just in the name of the husband. Not until after the trial, at this later stage of the determination of restitution, has this actual title ownership become clear. The State has answered that, despite the technical form of title ownership, Debbie Jenkins holds ownership rights in the vehicle along with her husband pursuant to Delaware's marital property laws.

The motions set forth by the Defendant present two distinct issues. First, does the language " property of another person" in the statute pertaining to Criminal Mischief require the State to prove at the criminal trial exactly to whom the damaged property belongs? For the reasons that follow, the Court determines that the State need not prove who owns the damaged property in order to prove the criminal element of " property of another" required by the statute for Criminal Mischief.

Second, Defendant argues that Debbie Jenkins is not the true victim of the crime of Criminal Mischief. Defendant states that only Ronald Jenkins' name appears as the title owner as well as the owner of the insurance policy for the vehicle on the collision center's invoice. Although Robert Jenkins is Debbie Jenkins' husband, Defendant argues that because the State relied on testimony that Debbie Jenkins was the owner of the car, " Debbie Jenkins and others cannot pursue charges for a car they do not own." 2 Defendant's motion for the " Denial of Restitution" claims that Debbie Jenkins should not be able to receive restitution because she is not the owner of the car. Furthermore, Defendant avers that restitution for Ronald Jenkins should not be granted because the fact of his ownership of the vehicle was never proven at trial. The Court rejects both of these arguments.

The State's Burden on the Criminal Element

The crime of Criminal Mischief is defined in title 11 of the Delaware Code, section 811, as follows:

§ 811. Criminal mischief; classification of crime; defense

(a) A person is guilty of criminal mischief when the person intentionally or recklessly:

(1) Damages tangible property of another person; or

(2) Tampers with tangible property of another person so as to endanger person or property; or

(3) Tampers or makes connection with tangible property of a gas, electric, steam or waterworks corporation...

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