People v. Watts, Docket No. 71016

CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan (US)
Citation133 Mich.App. 80,348 N.W.2d 39
Docket NumberDocket No. 71016
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Arthur Burton WATTS, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date04 May 1984

Frank J. Kelley, Atty. Gen., Louis J. Caruso, Sol. Gen., Joseph P. Kwiatkowski, Pros. Atty., and Leonard J. Malinowski, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the People.

James R. Neuhard, State Appellate Defender by P.E. Bennett, Detroit, for defendant-appellant.

Before MAHER, P.J., and R.B. BURNS and ROSKOPP *, JJ.

ROSKOPP, Judge.

After a jury trial, defendant was convicted of receiving and concealing stolen property of a value of greater than $100, M.C.L. Sec. 750.535; M.S.A. Sec. 28.803. Defendant was sentenced to be confined in a county jail for eight months and was ordered to pay attorney fees, witness fees, and jury fees within 18 months or to work an equivalent amount of time at some public service project to discharge the obligations at the rate of $4.00 per hour. He appeals as of right.

Defendant first argues that the trial court erred by holding that receiving and concealing stolen property is not a specific intent crime for which a defense of voluntary intoxication is available. Voluntary intoxication is a defense to a specific intent crime because such a crime cannot be committed where the intent did not exist; however, voluntary intoxication is not a defense to a general intent crime. People v. Langworthy, 416 Mich. 630, 637-638, 331 N.W.2d 171 (1982). An essential element of the crime of receiving and concealing stolen property is knowledge that the property was previously stolen. People v. Lauzon, 84 Mich.App. 201, 207, 269 N.W.2d 524 (1978).

Some Michigan decisions have asserted that crimes for which an essential element is that some act be done "knowingly" are specific intent crimes. See People v. Lerma, 66 Mich.App. 566, 569, 239 N.W.2d 424 (1976) (dicta), and People v. American Medical Centers of Michigan, Ltd., 118 Mich.App. 135, 153, 324 N.W.2d 782 (1982) (Medicaid fraud). However, other Michigan decisions have examined the intent behind the legislative or judicial inclusion of an element of knowledge in order to determine whether the crime is a specific intent crime. People v. Lane, 102 Mich.App. 11, 14-15, 300 N.W.2d 717 (1980) (carrying a concealed weapon); People v. Gleisner, 115 Mich.App. 196, 198-200, 320 N.W.2d 340 (1982) (resisting and obstructing a police officer); People v. Laur, 128 Mich.App. 453, 340 N.W.2d 655 (1983) (using a vehicle without authority but without an intent to steal). In Lane and Laur, the Court reasoned that the element of knowledge was necessary to prevent innocent acts from constituting the commission of a crime. Therefore, the element of knowledge in the crimes at issue in Lane and Laur was intended merely to require a general criminal intent, not to place the crimes in the category of specific intent crimes. We agree with the reasoning of Lane and Laur. Because the element of knowledge that the property was previously stolen in the crime of receiving and concealing stolen property was intended to prevent the innocent receipt or possession of stolen property from constituting the commission of the crime, receiving and concealing stolen property is not a specific intent crime.

Defendant points out that LaFave and Scott, Criminal Law, Sec. 93, p 690 states that voluntary intoxication is a defense to receiving and concealing stolen property. However, LaFave and Scott, supra, Sec. 45, p 344, also reject the distinction between general and specific intent crimes. In People v. Langworthy, supra, 416 Mich. 639-642, 331 N.W.2d 171, the Court considered scholarly criticism of the distinction, including that of LaFave and Scott, but declined to abandon it.

Defendant also argues that the trial court erred by permitting the owners of the stolen property to testify as to its value without a prior showing of their expertise in evaluating such property. We reject this argument, because an owner is...

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14 cases
  • People v. Ramsdell
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • June 23, 1998
    ...statute's application to knowing, rather than innocent, violations of the provisions of the statute. See, e.g., People v. Watts, 133 Mich.App. 80, 82-84, 348 N.W.2d 39 (1984); People v. Laur, 128 Mich.App. 453, 455, 340 N.W.2d 655 (1983). Construing the statute to require the element of kno......
  • Shell v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • September 1, 1985
    ...to signify a specific intent crime, the particular language and purpose of each statute must be considered. See People v. Watts, 133 Mich.App. 80, 82-83, 348 N.W.2d 39 (1984) (courts "have examined the intent behind the legislative or judicial inclusion of an element of knowledge in order t......
  • People v. Bartlett
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • August 11, 1998
    ...essential element of this crime." However, in People v. Laur, 128 Mich.App. 453, 455, 340 N.W.2d 655 (1983), and People v. Watts, 133 Mich.App. 80, 82-84, 348 N.W.2d 39 (1984), this Court stated that, where a knowledge element is necessary to prevent innocent acts from constituting a crime,......
  • People v. Perez-DeLeon
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • June 3, 1997
    ...essential element of this crime." However, in People v. Laur, 128 Mich.App. 453, 455, 340 N.W.2d 655 (1983), and People v. Watts, 133 Mich.App. 80, 82-84, 348 N.W.2d 39 (1984), this court stated that, where a knowledge element is Necessary to prevent innocent acts from constituting a crime,......
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