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Lund v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Virginia
217 Va. 688 (1977)


Charles Lund (defendant) was a Ph.D. student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Lund’s dissertation required the use of computer operation time and services of the computer center personnel at the university. The university used a computer leased from the IBM Corporation and allocated the cost of the rental to each department based on its usage of the computer. Lund did not seek specific approval to use the computer and was not given direct access to the computer facilities. Instead, Lund obtained keys from other students and took print-out cards from university post office boxes to use the computer. The university discovered this and confronted Lund. Lund eventually admitted what he was doing but stated that he thought the use was authorized because he was working on his dissertation. The university calculated that Lund had used approximately $26,000 worth of computer time. However, the print-out cards were not worth any more than the paper they were printed on. Lund was charged with theft of property and services valued over $100. At trial, Lund presented multiple witnesses, including the head of the statistics department, from the university that testified that Lund would have been authorized to use the computer time if he had requested it. The jury convicted Lund, and he appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (I’Anson, C.J.)

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