Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
State v. Bautista
Eryck Bautista (Defendant) went to a Maui Toyota dealership to buy a new truck. After agreeing on the final price, Defendant wrote a check to the dealership for $29,865.83. Maui Toyota did not call Defendant’s bank to ensure that the check would be covered by Defendant’s account. Defendant left the dealership with the vehicle. Three days later, Maui Toyota learned that Defendant’s check had bounced. A salesperson for Maui Toyota informed Defendant that the check had not cleared and told Defendant to return the truck. Defendant returned the truck and told Maui Toyota that he was trying to secure a loan to pay for the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Maui Toyota called the police, and Defendant was charged with first-degree theft of the vehicle. The prosecution was required to establish that Defendant intended to deprive Maui Toyota of property with a value of more than $20,000. Evidence at trial showed that Defendant had closed his account over five months before actually writing the check and that the highest balance ever recorded in the account was only $200. Evidence also showed that Defendant had provided his correct name and address in all interactions with Toyota. Toyota’s finance manager testified that the actual loss suffered by Maui Toyota could not be determined in the case for various reasons that made the sale complex. Two witnesses also testified that, after the attempt to purchase from Maui Toyota, Defendant went to two other dealerships and similarly purchased cars with bad checks written on closed accounts, returning the vehicles as soon as the dealerships found out that the checks had not cleared. Defendant was convicted and appealed.
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