Parham v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0772–14–1.

Docket NºRecord No. 0772–14–1.
Citation64 Va.App. 560, 770 S.E.2d 204
Case DateApril 07, 2015
CourtCourt of Appeals of Virginia

64 Va.App. 560
770 S.E.2d 204

Bruce Edison PARHAM
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.

Record No. 0772–14–1.

Court of Appeals of Virginia, Norfolk.

April 7, 2015.


770 S.E.2d 205

Kimberly E. Karle, Assistant Public Defender (Office of the Public Defender, on briefs), for appellant.

Craig W. Stallard, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: HUMPHREYS, BEALES and DECKER, JJ.

Opinion

DECKER, Judge.

64 Va.App. 562

Bruce Edison Parham appeals his conviction for making a materially false statement on a form completed in conjunction with a firearm transaction, in violation of Code § 18.2–308.2:2(K). He argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because the Commonwealth failed to prove that he was aware that he was under indictment at the time that he completed the form.1 We hold that the evidence was sufficient

770 S.E.2d 206

to support the conviction. Consequently, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

I. BACKGROUND2

At the appellant's trial for making a materially false statement on a federal form in connection with a purchase of a firearm, the Commonwealth presented undisputed evidence that the appellant falsely represented on a federal firearms transaction form that he was not “under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could imprison [him] for more than one year.” The only issue that the appellant contested at trial was whether he understood that he was under indictment at the time that he completed the form and attested to its accuracy.

Jeremy Allen Reynolds testified that on July 7, 2013, he worked as a retail clerk for Bass Pro Shops selling firearms. As part of his employment duties, Reynolds was responsible

64 Va.App. 563

for administering federal and state firearm transaction forms. The appellant was a customer. Reynolds stated that he gave the appellant the firearm transaction forms and the appellant completed them. He also explained that the store personnel never filled out the forms for the purchasers.

Over seven weeks before the appellant attempted to buy the firearm, he was indicted for a felony. Twelve days before the attempted purchase, he appeared in circuit court, and his case was continued.

Brenda Stokes, a Virginia State Trooper, testified that she investigated the appellant's offense related to his application to buy a firearm. When she interviewed the appellant, he told her that the store clerk completed the application for him. The appellant admitted that he had been arrested and the case was still “pending.”

After the close of the Commonwealth's case-in-chief, the appellant moved to strike the evidence. He argued that the evidence did not prove that he knew that he was under indictment and, as a result, did not support a finding that his giving of a materially false statement was willful and intentional. The trial court denied the motion. In doing so, it observed that the appellant admitted that he had “a case pending,” which the court described as “a term of art.” The court imputed “some understanding” to the appellant based on his use of the phrase.

The appellant testified in his defense. He stated that at the time he completed the firearm transaction form he “had no idea what indictment” meant. The appellant acknowledged, however, that he knew his court dates and that he had been charged with a felony. He also admitted that he had appeared in general district court and understood that his case had been transferred to circuit court. The appellant noted one appearance, during which his case was continued in order to appoint a new attorney. He claimed that when he completed the firearm transaction form, Reynolds “told [him] just to mark no on everything unless [he had] been convicted of a felony.” The appellant explained that although he read the

64 Va.App. 564

form, he did not do so carefully or completely, and instead relied on Reynolds' explanation of the form. In response to the court's questions, the appellant admitted that he specifically read the portion of the form pertaining to an indictment, but added that he did not know what the word meant nor did he ask Reynolds about it.

After the close of the appellant's case, he again moved to strike the evidence. He maintained that the Commonwealth failed to prove that he provided the untruthful information in a willful and intentional manner. He relied on Smith v. Commonwealth, 282 Va. 449, 718 S.E.2d 452 (2011), to support his argument that the Commonwealth failed to show that he received notice of the indictment or understood the term. The appellant stressed that evidence that he “didn't know what indictment meant ... but he answered it anyway” was not sufficient to constitute a violation of the statute. The Commonwealth responded that the length of time that passed between the appellant's indictment and his attempted firearm purchase,

770 S.E.2d 207

combined with the appellant's inconsistent statements, provided circumstantial evidence sufficient to support the inference that the appellant knew that he had been indicted.

The trial court denied the motion and found the appellant guilty of making a materially false statement on a form in connection with a firearm transaction, in violation of Code § 18.2–308.2:2(K). The appellant was sentenced to five years in prison, with all the time suspended.

II. ANALYSIS

The appellant argues that the trial court erred by finding the evidence sufficient to convict him of making a false statement in connection with a firearm transaction. Relying on Smith, 282 Va. 449, 718 S.E.2d 452, he contends that the Commonwealth failed to prove that he had actual knowledge that he was under criminal indictment. The Commonwealth responds that Smith is distinguishable because in that case the defendant had not made any court appearances.

64 Va.App. 565

This Court applies a well-established standard when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction. We examine “ ‘the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth.’ ” Fritter v. Commonwealth, 45 Va.App. 345, 351, 610 S.E.2d 887, 890 (2005) (quoting Clark v. Commonwealth, 30 Va.App. 406, 409–10, 517 S.E.2d 260, 261 (1999) ). In doing so, the Court “ ‘discard[s] all evidence of the accused...

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48 practice notes
  • Kelley v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1063-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 8, 2019
    ...evidence favorable to the Commonwealth and all fair inferences reasonably deducible" ’ from that evidence." Parham v. Commonwealth, 64 Va. App. 560, 565, 770 S.E.2d 204 (2015) (alterations in original) (quoting Henry v. Commonwealth, 63 Va. App. 30, 37, 753 S.E.2d 868 (2014) ). The central ......
  • Walker v. Commonwealth, Record No. 140747.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • April 16, 2015
    ...272, 176 S.E.2d 802, 805 (1970). In this respect, Virginia law follows an “inclusionary approach to the uncharged misconduct doctrine” 770 S.E.2d 204by admitting evidence of other crimes “if relevant, for any purpose other than to show a mere propensity or disposition on the part of the def......
  • Goodall v. Clarke, 1:21cv534 (LO/IDD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 22, 2022
    ...of the witnesses and the weight afforded the testimony of those witnesses are matters left to the trier of fact." Parham v. Commonwealth. 64 Va.App. 560, 565, 770 S.E.2d 204, (2015). From the evidence of appellant's statement to Partin, Holbert's conduct, and her possession of the lottery t......
  • White v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1991-16-2
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • December 5, 2017
    ..."Consequently, that court was the fact finder, and its judgment is afforded the same weight as a jury verdict." Parham v. Commonwealth, 64 Va. App. 560, 565, 770 S.E.2d 204, 207 (2015).When considering the sufficiency of the evidence presented below, "[w]e ‘will not disturb the trial court'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
48 cases
  • Kelley v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1063-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 8, 2019
    ...evidence favorable to the Commonwealth and all fair inferences reasonably deducible" ’ from that evidence." Parham v. Commonwealth, 64 Va. App. 560, 565, 770 S.E.2d 204 (2015) (alterations in original) (quoting Henry v. Commonwealth, 63 Va. App. 30, 37, 753 S.E.2d 868 (2014) ). The central ......
  • Walker v. Commonwealth, Record No. 140747.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • April 16, 2015
    ...272, 176 S.E.2d 802, 805 (1970). In this respect, Virginia law follows an “inclusionary approach to the uncharged misconduct doctrine” 770 S.E.2d 204by admitting evidence of other crimes “if relevant, for any purpose other than to show a mere propensity or disposition on the part of the def......
  • Goodall v. Clarke, 1:21cv534 (LO/IDD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 22, 2022
    ...of the witnesses and the weight afforded the testimony of those witnesses are matters left to the trier of fact." Parham v. Commonwealth. 64 Va.App. 560, 565, 770 S.E.2d 204, (2015). From the evidence of appellant's statement to Partin, Holbert's conduct, and her possession of the lottery t......
  • White v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1991-16-2
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • December 5, 2017
    ..."Consequently, that court was the fact finder, and its judgment is afforded the same weight as a jury verdict." Parham v. Commonwealth, 64 Va. App. 560, 565, 770 S.E.2d 204, 207 (2015).When considering the sufficiency of the evidence presented below, "[w]e ‘will not disturb the trial court'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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