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Oral Arguments of the Supreme Court of Virginia

Apr 6, 2020

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Granted Appeal Summary




The Court of Appeals of Virginia.


Rick Boyer (Integrity Law Firm, PLLC) for appellant.

Tiffany J. Bennett (Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney) for appellee.

Assignment of Error

The trial court improperly convicted Caldwell of defrauding an innkeeper by obtaining food with intent not to pay therefor, in violation of Code of Virginia 18.2-188. Code of Virginia § 18.2-188 requires that a defendant have the intent to defraud when the benefit is obtained. The Court stated that even if Caldwell did not have the intent to defraud when she obtained the benefit, when she was later asked to pay and refused, she formed the intent to defraud, and convicted Caldwell. The Court did not find that Caldwell possessed the requisite intent at the time she obtained the benefit, as required by the statute. Accordingly, Caldwell’s conviction is improper and should be overturned.

There was no transcript made of the trial, and no mention was made in the parties’ initial Statement of Facts in Lieu of Transcript that the objection was specifically preserved at trial. However, the Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient evidence in the record to determine that Caldwell’s objection was preserved by her counsel at trial. Caldwell argues that, given the trial court’s error of law, the ends of justice militate in favor of this Court’s granting her appeal despite the lack of a record in the initial Statement of Facts indicating that the objection was specifically preserved by her trial counsel.

The Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the judge’s clearly erroneous statement of law did not constitute reversible error.