State v. James, 65191

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtConsidered by REYNOLDSON; McCORMICK
Citation310 N.W.2d 197
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Donald Richard JAMES, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 65191,65191
Decision Date23 September 1981

Page 197

310 N.W.2d 197
STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
Donald Richard JAMES, Appellant.
No. 65191.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Sept. 23, 1981.

Page 198

Russell R. Newell, Columbus Junction, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Atty. Gen., Merle Wilna Fleming, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Jay T. Schweitzer, County Atty., for appellee.


McCORMICK, Justice.

Defendant Donald Richard James appeals from his conviction by jury and sentence for theft in violation of section 714.1(6), The Code. He contends the trial court erred in overruling his motions for acquittal and in overruling an objection to the instructions. We find no error in the rulings on the motions for acquittal, but we agree the court erred in failing to instruct the jury on defendant's theory of defense. Therefore we reverse and remand.

On March 23, 1978, defendant's bank closed his checking account because it was overdrawn and notified him of that fact. It is undisputed that on April 12, 1978, defendant gave a check on that account in the amount of $2008.10 to the Pine Motor Company of Wapello. The amount was the balance due on the purchase of a used Buick. Upon delivery of the check he was given possession of the automobile.

The State's evidence was that the transaction was for cash. The auto salesman acknowledged that defendant told him he would have to discount a contract in order to raise money to cover the check, but the salesman denied that he was asked either to

Page 199

hold the check or delay presenting it. The salesman mailed a title transfer application to the county treasurer. Pine Motor Company deposited defendant's check on April 18, 1978, and it reached defendant's bank two days later. Because defendant's account was closed, the check was returned to the company unpaid. Subsequently the company repossessed the automobile and made the complaint which resulted in the present action.

Defendant testified he told the auto salesman he did not have sufficient cash to purchase the car. He said he told the salesman he had a $5000 promissory note which he would discount to get the money to pay the balance owned on the car. His testimony included the following:

Q. Did you regard this transaction with Virgil Green on the 12th day of April of 1978 as a credit transaction? A. Yes, I did.

Q. Did you issue that check then in the nature of a note or a promise to pay? A. I issued it to secure them while I went to Ames to get this note discounted and come back with the cash, and Virgil agreed to hold it until the following week until I got back with the cash.

Q. Did you subsequently write Pine Motor Company a letter telling that you were unable at that point to get the note discounted? A. I wrote them a letter, and I told them that I had been unable to get the note discounted, but that I felt I would have it discounted the money for them very shortly. As a matter of fact, I would have had the thing settled up by now if they hadn't filed the criminal action.

Defendant introduced the treasurer's copy of the certificate of title obtained for defendant by the company. The application was dated April 17, 1978, and defendant's title was issued April 24, 1978. The application and title showed a security interest in Pine Motor Company.

I. Sufficiency of the evidence. Defendant contends the court erred in overruling his motions for acquittal based on insufficiency of the evidence. He argues that the State's failure to introduce a certificate of title showing the interest he actually received in the transaction is fatal to its case. He also argues that the evidence as a whole is insufficient to support a jury finding of theft.

The offense under section 714.1(6) is committed when a person "gives any check ... and obtains property or service in exchange therefor, if the person knows that such check ... will not be paid when presented." The elements of the charge are accurately delineated in II Iowa State Bar Association Uniform Jury Instructions, Criminal No. 1436 (1978):

1. That on or about the ______ day of ______, 19--, the defendant did make, utter, draw, deliver or give to (victim) a (check,...

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5 cases
  • State v. Stange, 13359
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • August 15, 1989
    ...utterance; preoccupation with intense pain and concern for survival precludes opportunity or incentive to fabricate); State v. James, 310 N.W.2d 197 (Iowa 1981) (victim's statements in response to questioning by police thirty minutes after attack admissible as excited utterance); People v. ......
  • State v. Schiebout
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 5, 2020
    ...under advisement.The district court ultimately denied the motion for acquittal in an oral order in which the court noted its reliance on State v. James concerning the knowledge element. 310 N.W.2d 197 (Iowa 1981), overruled by State v. Hogrefe , 557 N.W.2d 871 (Iowa 1996). The district cour......
  • City of Cedar Falls v. Flett, 67522
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 16, 1983
    ...certificate is conclusive evidence of ownership of an interest in a motor vehicle. This is not always true, however. State v. James, 310 N.W.2d 197, 199 (Iowa 1981). The concept of ownership of a motor vehicle depends on the circumstances of the Ownership is not defined in the ordinance. We......
  • State v. Hogrefe, 95-1155
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 20, 1996
    ...... In State v. James, 310 N.W.2d 197 (Iowa 1981)--another theft by check case--this court held that there is no "deception" in a case of a check allegedly made and ......
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