Posts tagged "1011317"

Commonwealth v. Littles (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-113-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030;   SJC-12238   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  CASANDRA B. LITTLES.       Essex.     March 9, 2017. – June 28, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.     Larceny.  Fraud.  Practice, Criminal, Instructions to jury, Harmless error.  Due Process of Law, Inference.  Constitutional Law, Harmless error.  Error, Harmless.  Evidence, Fraud, Prima facie evidence, Inference.       Complaint received and sworn to in the Lawrence Division of the District Court Department on January 21, 2014.   The case was tried before Michael A. Uhlarik, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Philip A. Mallard, Assistant District Attorney (Lindsay M. Nasson, Assistant District Attorney, also present) for the Commonwealth. Joseph K. Kenyon, Jr., for the defendant.     LOWY, J.  The case before us challenges the constitutionality of a jury instruction for the crime of drawing or uttering a fraudulent check.  The challenged instruction informed the jury that they could infer that the defendant had both (1) knowledge of insufficient funds and (2) fraudulent intent if they found that the defendant “failed to make good on th[e] check within two days after she was notified that the bank had refused payment because of insufficient funds.”  The instruction stems from G. L. c. 266, § 37, which designates the failure to make the required payment on the bad check within two days of notice as “prima facie evidence” of the defendant’s intent and knowledge.  We conclude that the statute’s designation of prima facie evidence and the corresponding instruction are constitutionally infirm because a defendant’s failure to pay a check within two days of being notified of its dishonor is, without more, insufficient to warrant a jury in finding the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  Nevertheless, we conclude that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt in this case, and therefore we affirm the defendant’s convictions. Background.  The jury could have found the following facts.  Between July 26 and 28, 2013, the defendant deposited four checks, totaling $ 15,000, into certain bank accounts she held at TD Bank via automated teller machines (ATMs).  The funds were credited to the respective accounts electronically on the day of the transaction, before the checks were finally negotiated.  Each check was drawn from a single Citizens Bank account […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 29, 2017 at 12:02 am

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