County Criminal Court: CRIMINAL LAW – Jury Trial – Evidence – Intent a jury question in this case because there was sufficient circumstantial evidence. JOA properly denied. Judgment and sentence affirmed. Lavoie v. State, No. CRC 07-20 APANO (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. October 29, 2007).

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

 

 

GEORGE P. LAVOIE

 

            Appellant,                                            

v.                                                                     Appeal No. CRC 07-20 APANO

                                                                        UCN522007AP000020XXXCR

 

STATE OF FLORIDA

 

            Appellee.

___________________________/

 

Opinion filed ________________.

 

Appeal from an judgment and sentence

entered by the Pinellas County Court

County Court Judge John Carassas

 

Kimberley Nolan Hopkins, Esquire

Attorney for appellant

 

C. Marie King, Esquire

Assistant State Attorney

 

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

            THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendant, George Lavoie’s, appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.

            The defendant was convicted by a jury of criminal mischief. The defendant argues in this appeal that the trial court erred in not granting his motion for Judgment of Acquittal (“JOA”).       

            The standard of review in this matter is de novo. Tibbs v. State, 397 So.2d 1120 (Fla. 1981). In moving for a JOA, the defendant admits not only the facts in evidence, but also every reasonable conclusion favorable to the State that the jury might infer from the evidence. State v. Odom, 862 So.2d 56 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003).

            A review of the record reveals that the defendant got into a loud argument with some co-workers at a warehouse. He left the immediate work area and stormed towards the French doors of the warehouse exit. The witnesses then heard a loud noise and the sound of the French doors swinging open. The defendant was seen walking away from the French doors --- which were damaged and had pieces of wood on the ground. The defendant argues that there was no proof that he actually intended to damage the doors.

            Intent cannot be proved by direct evidence in this case. Instead, the intent must be inferred from the circumstances surrounding the act. See M.N. v. State, 821 So.2d 1205 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002). In addition, “[a] trial court should rarely, if ever, grant a motion for judgment of acquittal based on the State’s failure to prove mental intent.” Id. at 1206. There was sufficient evidence in this case to allow an inference that the defendant intended to damage the French doors. Thus, the trial court properly denied the defendant’s request for a JOA and allowed the jury to decide the matter.

            The defendant also claims there was insufficient evidence to prove the amount of property damage exceeded the threshold amount for a first degree misdemeanor conviction. The defendant is mistaken. Contrary to the defendant’s assertion, the victim did not merely present testimony about the amount of the estimated damage, she testified about her actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred to repair the damage done to the door. This was sufficient to prove the amount of the damage. The cases cited by the defendant all deal with situations where there was only an estimate of damage, and not testimony about actual out-or-pocket expenses. Therefore, those cases are not relevant.

            The trial court properly denied the defendant’s JOA, and there was sufficient evidence of the amount of damage caused by the defendant. Accordingly, the judgment and sentence is affirmed.

            IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment and sentence is affirmed.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Clearwater, Florida this _____ day of October, 2007.

 

 

                                                                        ______________________________

                                                                                          Linda R. Allan

                                                                                       Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

                                                                        _______________________________

                                                                                          R. Timothy Peters 

                                                                                         Circuit Court Judge

 

 

 

                                                                        ________________________________

                                                                                           John A. Schaefer

                                                                                          Circuit Court Judge

 

cc:        Kimberley Nolan Hopkins, Esquire

 

            Office of the State Attorney

 

            Honorable John Carassas