Harris v. State

Decision Date20 April 1999
Docket NumberNo. 81,81
Citation353 Md. 596,728 A.2d 180
PartiesTimothy HARRIS v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Gina M. Serra, Asst. Public Defender (Stephen E. Harris, Public Defender, on brief), Baltimore, for Appellant.

Mary Ann Ince, Asst. Atty. Gen (J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Atty. Gen., on brief), Baltimore, for Appellee.

Argued before BELL, C.J., and ELDRIDGE, RODOWSKY, CHASANOW, RAKER, WILNER and CATHELL, JJ.

RAKER, Judge.

Appellant was convicted of the offense of carjacking, in violation of Maryland Code (1957, 1996 Repl.Vol., 1997 Supp.), Article 27 § 348A.1 The issue we must decide in this case is whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury that carjacking is not a specific intent crime. We conclude that carjacking is not a specific intent crime, and accordingly, we shall affirm the trial court.

I

We shall briefly state the facts. On November 26, 1996, Timothy Harris, Jack Tipton and several other friends were playing cards and drinking alcohol at a friend's house. Tipton offered to drive Harris home. Tipton testified that Harris became angry when Tipton refused to go to the District of Columbia, and that Harris forcibly removed Tipton from the car and drove away. Tipton reported the car as stolen.

Appellant was indicted by the Grand Jury for Prince George's County with the crimes of carjacking in violation of Art. 27, § 348A, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle in violation of Art. 27, § 342A, and second degree assault in violation of Art. 27, § 12A. At trial, Harris's defense was voluntary intoxication. He testified that he had consumed alcohol and smoked marijuana throughout the evening, and that he "blacked out" after leaving the get-together.

Appellant requested a jury instruction on voluntary intoxication, arguing that he was too intoxicated from drugs and alcohol to form the specific intent required for the offenses of carjacking and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. The court declined to instruct the jury that carjacking required specific intent. The trial court instructed the jury that when charged with an offense requiring specific intent, a defendant cannot be guilty if he was so intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol that he was unable to form the necessary intent. The court further instructed the jury that the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle was the only offense that required specific intent. As to the offense of carjacking, the trial court instructed the jury as follows:

An individual is guilty of carjacking when that individual obtains unauthorized possession or control of a motor vehicle from another individual in actual possession by force or violence, or by putting that individual in fear through intimidation or threat of force or violence.

The jury found Harris not guilty of the crime of unauthorized taking of a motor vehicle, and guilty of carjacking and assault.

Appellant noted a timely appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. We granted certiorari on our own motion to address the issue of whether specific intent is an element of the crime of carjacking.

II

Maryland's carjacking statute, Art. 27, § 348A reads in pertinent part:

(b) Elements of offense.(1) An individual commits the offense of carjacking when the individual obtains unauthorized possession or control of a motor vehicle from another individual in actual possession by force or violence, or by putting that individual in fear through intimidation or threat of force or violence.

* * * * * *

(c) Penalty—In general—An individual convicted of carjacking ... is guilty of a felony and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 30 years.
(d) Same—Additional to other offenses.— The sentence imposed under this section may be imposed separate from and consecutive to a sentence for any other offense arising from the conduct underlying the offenses of carjacking or armed carjacking.
(e) Defenses.—It is not a defense to the offense of carjacking or armed carjacking that the defendant did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the motor vehicle.

The State argues that the plain language of § 348A clearly establishes that carjacking is not a specific intent crime. The State observes that the trial court's carjacking instruction tracked the language of § 348A(b)(1). According to the State, the Legislature's failure to include language which would ordinarily indicate a specific intent requirement refutes Harris's claim that carjacking requires a specific intent to deprive without regard to duration. Rather, the Legislature clearly intended that the offense is committed without any additional deliberate and conscious purpose or design to accomplish a specific and more remote result.

Appellant argues that carjacking requires specific intent "without regard to the intended duration of the deprivation." He argues that carjacking is a type of robbery without the need to prove a specific intent to deprive permanently. Alternatively, he argues that carjacking is the equivalent of an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, preceded by an assault, battery, or an aggravated assault, and as such, requires the State to prove a specific intent to deprive, without regard to the duration of the intended deprivation. In particular, Appellant argues that carjacking is little more than robbery without the need to prove specific intent to permanently deprive, and the equivalent of unauthorized use preceded by an assault, battery, or an aggravated assault. Appellant maintains that the intent requirement of carjacking is like that of unauthorized use—that an intent to deprive temporarily is the specific intent requirement. Noting that the standard for specific intent is "whether, in addition to the general intent to do the immediate act, it embraces some additional purpose or design to be accomplished beyond that immediate act," Appellant reasons that "[c]arjacking requires that, through force or violence, or a threat of force or violence (the immediate act), a person obtains unauthorized possession or control of a motor vehicle (the purpose beyond the immediate act)."

III

Generally there are two aspects of every crime—the actus reus or guilty act and the mens rea or the culpable mental state accompanying the forbidden act. Garnett v. State, 332 Md. 571, 577-78, 632 A.2d 797, 800 (1993). Maryland continues to observe the distinction between general and specific intent crimes. Shell v. State, 307 Md. 46, 65, 512 A.2d 358, 366-67 (1986). The distinction is particularly significant when a defendant claims that his voluntary intoxication prevents him from forming the requisite intent to commit a crime. See id. at 65, 512 A.2d at 367 (noting that the distinction "does serve to reconcile fairness to the accused with the need to protect the public from intoxicated offenders and to deter such persons"); Wieland v. State, 101 Md.App. 1, 35, 643 A.2d 446, 463 (1994) ("It is a distinction that takes on critical importance most frequently in assessing the effect of voluntary intoxication on a defendant's capacity to entertain a certain mens rea.") It has long been the law in Maryland that while voluntary intoxication is a defense to a specific intent crime, it is not a defense to a general intent crime. See Shell, 307 Md. at 58,512 A.2d at 367 (conducting extensive review of Maryland cases addressing asserted defense of voluntary intoxication and specific intent generally).

Specific intent has been defined as not simply the intent to do an immediate act, but the "additional deliberate and conscious purpose or design of accomplishing a very specific and more remote result." Shell, 307 Md. at 63, 512 A.2d at 366 (quoting Smith v. State, 41 Md.App. 277, 305, 398 A.2d 426, 443 (1979)); see also In re Taka C., 331 Md. 80, 84, 626 A.2d 366, 368-69 (1993); Ford v. State, 330 Md. 682, 702, 625 A.2d 984, 993 (1993); State v. Gover, 267 Md. 602, 606, 298 A.2d 378, 381 (1973). In Shell, we quoted with approval the explanation of specific intent by Judge Moylan, writing for the Court of Special Appeals in Smith v. State, 41 Md.App. at 305-06, 398 A.2d at 442-43:

A specific intent is not simply the intent to do the immediate act but embraces the requirement that the mind be conscious of a more remote purpose or design which shall eventuate from the doing of the immediate act. Though assault implies only the general intent to strike the blow, assault with intent to murder, rob, rape, or maim requires a fully formed and conscious purpose that those further consequences shall flow from the doing of the immediate act. To break and enter requires a mere general intent but to commit burglary requires the additional specific intent of committing a felony after the entry has been made. A trespassory taking requires a mere general intent but larceny (or robbery) requires the specific animus furandi or deliberate purpose of depriving the owner permanently of the stolen goods. This is why even voluntary intoxication may negate a specific intent though it will not negate a mere general intent.

* * * * * * * *

The larger class `specific intent' includes such other members as 1) assault with intent to murder, 2) assault with intent to rape, 3) assault with intent to rob, 4) assault with intent to maim, 5) burglary, 6) larceny, 7) robbery and 8) the specificintent-to inflict-grievous-bodily-harm variety of murder.2 Each of these requires not simply the general intent to do the immediate act with no particular, clear or undifferentiated end in mind, but the additional deliberate and conscious purpose or design of accomplishing a very specific and more remote result.

307 Md. at 62-63, 512 A.2d at 366 (emphasis added). Chief Justice Traynor, writing for the Supreme Court of California, explained the difference between specific intent and general intent crimes:

When the definition of a crime consists of only the description of a particular act, without reference to intent to do a further act or achieve a future consequence,
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