State v. Waterhouse

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 05-05-2016
  • Case #: S062799
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Baldwin, J. for the Court; Balmer, C.J.; Kistler, J.; Walters, J.; Landau, J.; & Brewer, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

To convict a defendant of third degree theft under ORS 1664.043, the State need only show the property stolen had some value and is not required to prove the exact value of the property.

Defendant took a truck bed full of scrap metal from a container on a manufacturing plant’s fenced-in property. The plant’s security guard observed Defendant and called the police, resulting in Defendant’s arrest and charge of third degree theft (ORS 164.043). Under the statute, Defendant committed third degree theft if Defendant intentionally appropriated the plant’s property and that property, the scrap metal, had some value. At trial, the security guard testified that the plant had an ongoing arrangement where a company picked up the scrap metal and paid the plant based on the weight and type of the scrap metal. After the close of the State’s case, Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing the State had failed to prove the property had actual value. The court denied the motion and the jury found Defendant guilty of third degree theft. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the testimony was sufficient to allow a reasonable juror to find there was a market for the scrap metal, which properly allowed the court to infer a sufficiently non-speculative market value that satisfies the third degree theft statute. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Defendant argued the Court of Appeals erred in its determination that it was not required to find the precise value of the stolen items to establish third degree theft under ORS 164.043 because without a precise value the items cannot be considered “property.” The Supreme Court held the third degree theft statute contains no specific value requirement as do the statutes for first degree, second degree, and first degree aggravated theft; therefore, the exact value of the item for a conviction of third degree theft is not material to the conviction, and the State need only prove that the item has some value. Decision of Court of Appeals and judgment of circuit court affirmed.

Advanced Search