State v. Goins, 102

Decision Date24 February 1986
Docket NumberNo. 102,102
Citation705 S.W.2d 648
CourtTennessee Supreme Court
PartiesSTATE of Tennessee, Appellee, v. James A. GOINS, Defendant-Appellant. at Jackson

Stanley H. Less, Memphis, for defendant-appellant.

Ann Lacy Johns, Asst. Atty. Gen., Nashville (W.J. Michael Cody, Atty. Gen. & Reporter, Nashville of counsel), for appellee.


DROWOTA, Justice.

In this case, defendant, James A. Goins, was convicted in a jury trial under three separate indictments for concealing stolen property over the value of two hundred dollars ($200). T.C.A. Sec. 39-3-1112 (1982). The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgment of the Criminal Court for Shelby County. This Court granted defendant's application to appeal solely on the issue of whether these multiple convictions may stand under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Tennessee Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 10. Although defendant did not raise this issue previously, this Court may correct constitutional errors to prevent manifest injustice. See Rule 13(b), T.R.A.P.; Rule 52(b), T.R.Crim.P. See also Veach v. State, 491 S.W.2d 81, 83 (Tenn.1973).

To sustain a conviction for receiving or concealing stolen property, the State must prove: (1) that defendant fraudulently received, purchased, concealed, or aided in concealing, (2) goods feloniously taken or stolen from another, or goods obtained by robbery or burglary, (3) knowing such goods to have been so obtained, (4) with the intent to deprive the owner of possession. The State does not have to show who stole the goods or the name of the victim of the theft, but the evidence must show that the property is owned by someone other than the defendant, that the property is in fact stolen, that the defendant received or concealed the property with knowledge of its stolen nature, and that defendant had the necessary intent to deprive the owners of their property. If, however, ownership is placed in a certain person, that must also be shown. "[T]he gravamen of the crime [is] the fact that the receiver knew that he was receiving stolen property." Williams v. State, 216 Tenn. 89, 95, 390 S.W.2d 234, 237 (1965) (quoting Cobb v. State, 201 Tenn. 676, 301 S.W.2d 370 (1957)). See also State v. Hatchett, 560 S.W.2d 627 (Tenn.1978). Further, unexplained possession of recently stolen property will permit an inference that the defendant knew it was stolen. State v. Hatchett, supra; State v. McColgan, 631 S.W.2d 151 (Tenn.Crim.App.1981).

The evidence in the record of this case showed that defendant was found in possession of recently stolen property as the result of a search conducted at the defendant's home on September 11, 1981. Under the authority of a search warrant, the police found large quantities of personal property such as guns, silverware, jewelry, and numerous other items, having a combined worth of well over Two Hundred Dollars. The stolen property of the victims named in the indictments was found during this search. The burglaries were committed on separate occasions by Richard Nash in Memphis in early 1981. Police obtained the search warrant based on information supplied by Mr. Nash following his arrest that he had sold some of the stolen property to the defendant. Defendant also admitted to purchasing stolen property from Mr. Nash. The State's proof included testimony by the victims of the three burglaries in which they stated that they had been burglarized and described the items taken. The officers investigating the burglaries also executed the search warrant at defendant's house; they testified to what was found during the search. No evidence whatsoever was produced showing when or how the defendant received or concealed the items identified as the fruits of the three burglaries upon which these indictments were predicated. Nevertheless, defendant was convicted separately for concealing or receiving the stolen property from each of these burglaries.

While the evidence is clearly sufficient to sustain one conviction for concealing stolen property in violation of T.C.A. Sec. 39-3-1112, the Double Jeopardy Clause and the case law in Tennessee will not allow two of the three convictions to stand. This Court has stated previously that no hard and fast rule for determining when the Double Jeopardy Clause applies can be readily formulated and that "each case requires close and careful analysis of the offenses involved, the statutory definitions of the crimes, the legislative intent and the particular facts and circumstances." State v. Black, 524 S.W.2d 913, 919 (Tenn.1975). Accord State v. Lowery, 667 S.W.2d 52 (Tenn.1984). Moreover, " 'certainly it must be clear that the offenses are wholly separate and distinct.' [ Patmore v. State, 152 Tenn. 281, 284, 277 S.W. 892, 893 (1925).]" Grant v. State, 213 Tenn. 440, 445, 374 S.W.2d 391, 393 (1964).

The only offense involved here is concealing stolen property over the value of two hundred dollars. T.C.A. Sec. 39-3-1112 defines this crime and demonstrates no clear legislative intent to punish separately the concealment of property stolen at different times without some evidence that such property was concealed by the defendant in separate transactions. Although construing what is now T.C.A. Sec. 39-3-1113 [Receiving or concealing stolen property under two hundred dollars], the legislative intent found in Lumpkins v. State, 584 S.W.2d 244, 245 (Tenn.Crim.App.1979), is applicable to T.C.A. Sec. 39-3-1112 as well: "The General Assembly clearly intended that larceny related charges stemming from a single transaction subject a defendant to a single punishment under our law." Moreover, penal statutes are construed strictly against the State. See State v. Davis, 654 S.W.2d 688, 700 (Tenn.Crim.App.1983). As the Court of Criminal Appeals noted in Conner v. State, 531 S.W.2d 119 (Tenn.Crim.App.1975), quoting from Wharton's Criminal Law, Sec. 569:

" 'Separate offenses are committed in receiving from the same person at different times stolen goods, knowing them to have been stolen. No distinction is made, however, when the property is received at one time, as to whether it is the property of one or several persons.' "

531 S.W.2d at 122.

Evidence concerning defendant's involvement in multiple transactions was available to the State in this case. Nevertheless, all of the items were found commingled in defendant's house during one search. No evidence was introduced that tended to show that defendant concealed the items stolen from the...

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