People v. Beaudin, Docket No. 68199

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; WILLIAMS; BOYLE
Citation417 Mich. 570,339 N.W.2d 461
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Frederick J. BEAUDIN, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberDocket No. 68199
Decision Date24 October 1983

Page 461

339 N.W.2d 461
417 Mich. 570
PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Frederick J. BEAUDIN, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket No. 68199.
Supreme Court of Michigan.
Oct. 24, 1983.

[417 Mich. 571] Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Louis J. Caruso, Sol. Gen., Karl E. Kraus, Pros. Atty., and Mary C. Smith, Asst. Atty. Gen., Lansing, for the People.

John S. Gilbreath, Jr., P.C., Manchester, for defendant-appellant.

Page 462

PER CURIAM.

We are asked to decide whether the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury regarding specific intent 1 in the case of a defendant charged with endangering the lives of persons traveling on a railroad. 2 We hold that the instruction should have been given.

417 Mich. 572] I

The defendant and another man were accused of endangering lives by removing four bolts from a section of railroad track near Ubly, Michigan, on May 6, 1978. The accomplice was granted immunity and testified against the defendant at a jury trial in the Huron Circuit Court. According to the witness, he came upon a loose bolt and removed it from a rail, handing it to the defendant upon request. The defendant loosened and removed three more bolts. The two men then threw the bolts into a river.

A locomotive engineer with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company testified that he was alerted to a problem with the track four days later when his train lurched sideways. The next day he slowed the train to ten miles per hour as it neared the section, and he spotted a raised rail. Had the train been traveling at its normal speed, a derailment would have been likely, he said.

The defendant testified in his own behalf that he and the accomplice had been walking along the railroad tracks and drinking wine. He contended that it was the accomplice who removed the bolts and threw them into the river.

The defendant was convicted as charged and placed on probation for 36 months. He also was assessed $450 in fines and court costs. The defendant's probation was revoked following a hearing on September 17, 1979, and he received a prison term of 30 to 60 years on the underlying charge of endangering a railroad. 3

[417 Mich. 573] The defendant argued on appeal 4 that the offense with which he was charged requires a showing of specific intent and that the trial judge erred in not so instructing the jury. The judge based his decision partly on the fact that, under the statute, no particular person need be the target of the endangering act. The Court of Appeals

Page 463

affirmed the defendant's conviction, agreeing with the trial judge that the offense at issue only requires proof of general intent. 5 110 Mich.App. 147, 312 N.W.2d 187 (1981)
II

This Court recently reaffirmed the validity of the general versus specific intent dichotomy in the context of the availability of an intoxication defense. People v. Langworthy and its companion case People v. Lundy, 416 Mich. 630, 331 N.W.2d 171 (1982). 6 The majority opinion reiterated that the [417 Mich. 574] distinction between specific intent and general intent crimes is that the former involves a particular criminal intent beyond the act done, while the latter involves merely the intent to do the physical act.

We believe that the inescapable conclusion is that the offense considered by us today is a specific intent crime and that jury instructions which do not include that element are deficient.

The statute under which Beaudin was charged provides in pertinent part:

"If any person shall, by the placing of any impediment upon the track of any railroad, or by any other means whatsoever, throw from said track any engine or cars used thereon, or attempt so to do, whether such engine or cars be thrown from said track or not, or shall by any other means whatsoever willfully endanger or attempt to endanger the lives of persons engaged in the work of said road, or persons traveling on the engine or cars of said road, he shall be subject to imprisonment in the state prison during his natural life, or any number of years, in the discretion of the court. And it shall not be necessary for the people to allege or prove in any such case that the person thereby intended to injure or endanger the life of any particular person or persons." M.C.L. Sec. 466.12; M.S.A. Sec. 22.271.

Thus, under the statute, the defendant would be guilty if he threw or tried to throw a train from the tracks or willfully endangered or tried to endanger the lives of persons working or traveling on the railroad. The information filed against the defendant charged him under the latter theory, i.e., willfully endangering lives. 7

[417 Mich. 575] Performance of the physical act proscribed in the statute is not enough to sustain a conviction. The act must be coincident with an intent to bring about the particular result the statute seeks to prohibit. In order for Beaudin to be guilty of this crime, he must have removed the bolts from the rail with the specific intent to endanger lives. Such an intent may be express or it may be inferred from facts and circumstances. We disagree with the trial judge that only a general intent is required by the statute because the statute does not indicate that a particular person need be the target of the endangering act. All this means is that a defendant need not intend to endanger specific persons, but may intend only to injure people in general. However, it is the nature of the intent required to violate the statute which must be examined. For the reasons outlined...

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54 practice notes
  • People v. Waterstone, Docket Nos. 303268
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 10 Abril 2012
    ...60.Id., quoting Perkins & Boyce, Criminal Law (3d ed.), pp. 832–834. 61. Black's Law Dictionary (9th ed.), p. 882. 62.People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573–574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983). 63.People v. Gould, 225 Mich.App. 79, 85, 570 N.W.2d 140 (1997), quoting People v. Lerma, 66 Mich.App. 566,......
  • People v. Jensen, Docket No. 210655
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 28 Agosto 1998
    ...criminal intent beyond the act done, whereas general intent is merely the intent to perform the physical act itself. People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573-574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983); People v. Langworthy, 416 Mich. 630, 639, 644, 331 N.W.2d 171 (1982). For a strict liability crime, the peop......
  • People of State v. Kowalski, Docket No. 141695.Calendar No. 3.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 26 Julio 2011
    ...merely the intent to do the physical act.’ ” People v. Nowack, 462 Mich. 392, 405, 614 N.W.2d 78 (2000), quoting People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573–574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983) (alteration in Nowack ). FN16. People v. Gillis, 474 Mich. 105, 113, 712 N.W.2d 419 (2006). FN17. People v. Serra......
  • People v. Lardie, Docket Nos. 101640
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 9 Julio 1996
    ...criminal intent beyond the act done, whereas general intent is merely the intent to perform the physical act itself. People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573-574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983); People v. Langworthy, 416 Mich. 630, 639, 644, 331 N.W.2d 171 (1982). 12 For a strict-liability [452 Mich. 2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
54 cases
  • People v. Waterstone, Docket Nos. 303268
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 10 Abril 2012
    ...60.Id., quoting Perkins & Boyce, Criminal Law (3d ed.), pp. 832–834. 61. Black's Law Dictionary (9th ed.), p. 882. 62.People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573–574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983). 63.People v. Gould, 225 Mich.App. 79, 85, 570 N.W.2d 140 (1997), quoting People v. Lerma, 66 Mich.App. 566,......
  • People v. Jensen, Docket No. 210655
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 28 Agosto 1998
    ...criminal intent beyond the act done, whereas general intent is merely the intent to perform the physical act itself. People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573-574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983); People v. Langworthy, 416 Mich. 630, 639, 644, 331 N.W.2d 171 (1982). For a strict liability crime, the peop......
  • People of State v. Kowalski, Docket No. 141695.Calendar No. 3.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 26 Julio 2011
    ...merely the intent to do the physical act.’ ” People v. Nowack, 462 Mich. 392, 405, 614 N.W.2d 78 (2000), quoting People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573–574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983) (alteration in Nowack ). FN16. People v. Gillis, 474 Mich. 105, 113, 712 N.W.2d 419 (2006). FN17. People v. Serra......
  • People v. Lardie, Docket Nos. 101640
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 9 Julio 1996
    ...criminal intent beyond the act done, whereas general intent is merely the intent to perform the physical act itself. People v. Beaudin, 417 Mich. 570, 573-574, 339 N.W.2d 461 (1983); People v. Langworthy, 416 Mich. 630, 639, 644, 331 N.W.2d 171 (1982). 12 For a strict-liability [452 Mich. 2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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