Thursday, September 13, 2012
Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today
In An-Hung Yao and Yu-Ting Lin v. State of Indiana, a 13-page, 4-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:
Associated with a toy gun business, Defendants were charged with counterfeiting, theft, and corrupt business influence arising out of their conduct concerning toy semi-automatic weapons that were look-alikes of real weapons for which a gun manufacturer allegedly owned a federally protected trademark. Defendants moved to dismiss the charges; the trial court granted their motion with respect to counterfeiting on grounds that the facts alleged did not constitute an offense. On interlocutory review the Court of Appeals concluded that all charges should be dismissed on grounds that Indiana lacked jurisdiction. Disagreeing with our colleagues on this point, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the trial court. * * *
[A. Territorial Jurisdiction]
Consistent with the approach taken by the Court of Appeals in this case, the Defendants also claim there cannot be a more expansive understanding of jurisdiction under the criminal law than under the civil law. We disagree. * * *
Today, criminal jurisdiction is for the most part a creature of expansive state statutes designed in part to permit prosecution for consequences felt within a state resulting from criminal acts occurring outside a state. See Wayne R. LaFave, et al., 4 Criminal Procedure § 16.4(c) at 847-49 (3d ed. 2007).
In sum, we cannot conclude that as a matter of law the Defendants engaged in no conduct nor effected any result in Indiana that was an element of either the theft or the counterfeiting charge. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying sub silentio Lin’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
[B. Do the Facts Alleged Constitute the Offense of Counterfeiting?]
At first blush it seems intuitive that “written instrument” must at least consist of a document of some kind. But we agree with the Jacobs court that the Legislature broadened the scope and definition of “written instrument” to include more than just documents, paper, and other instruments containing written matter. Instead the definition includes “other objects or symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification.” It seems clear enough to us that a handgun or rifle – just as an unsigned Monet painting, Frederick Remington sculpture, or Tiffany vase – could be subject to counterfeiting. To require actual writing or markings on a replica in order to bring it within the reach of the counterfeiting statute would defeat the purpose of the statute and eliminate a very wide range of items. We are not convinced the Legislature intended such a result.
We conclude that Defendants’ airsoft gun is a written instrument within the meaning of the statute and therefore reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the counterfeiting charges.
[C. Do the Facts Alleged Constitute the Offense of Theft?]
At the heart of and woven throughout the Defendants’ argument is the insistence that this case should be resolved under civil trademark infringement law, not criminal law. * * * But whether a theft prosecution is “the ‘wrong tool for the job’ when it comes to defining intellectual property interests,” is not our decision to make. Rather, our job is to apply the Indiana criminal statutes as drafted by the Legislature. And under those statutes, the questions in this case include whether the Defendants, did beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) knowingly or intentionally; 2) obtain, take, carry, sell, convey, encumber, or possess property, or secure, transfer, or extend a right to property; 3) which property belonged to H & K; 4) without H & K’s consent; 5) with intent to deprive H & K of any part of the property’s value or use? And these are all questions of fact that cannot be determined on a motion to dismiss. * * * In this case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants’ motions to dismiss the theft and corrupt business influence charges.
Conclusion. We affirm the trial court’s denial of the motions to dismiss the charging informations on jurisdictional grounds, and its denial of Defendants’ motions to dismiss the charging informations alleging theft and corrupt business influence. We reverse the trial court’s grant of the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the charging informations alleging counterfeiting.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 13, 2012 10:19 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions