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State v. Davis

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-17-2012
Case #: A143956
Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Brewer, J; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A143956.pdf

Criminal Law: A jury instruction is erroneous when defining recklessness in criminal mischief as relating to a particular circumstance rather than only to the resulting damage.

Defendant appealed his conviction for second-degree criminal mischief after attempting to lower two drainage culverts with a backhoe on property that did not belong to him, and thereby uncovering, but not damaging, a water main. Davis alleged that the instruction given to the jury regarding the lesser-included offense of second-degree criminal mischief was erroneous because it defined, "reckless," as acting recklessly without regard to a particular result (damage) or a particular circumstance. Davis argued that the latter portion of the instruction was improper because the second-degree criminal mischief statute criminalizes the damaging of another's property and therefore does not involve a particular situation. The Court agreed, finding that the jury should have only been instructed regarding whether Davis acted recklessly toward the resulting damages, and not toward any particular circumstances which, in this case, was the nearby water main. The Court held that this was reversible error because it created a misimpression of the law. Reversed and remanded.