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Simms v. District of Columbia

612 A.2d 215 (1992)

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Simms v. District of Columbia

District of Columbia Court of Appeals

612 A.2d 215 (1992)

Facts

One evening, Captain Amady of the Metropolitan Police Department witnessed a group of individuals attempting to load a Volkswagen Jetta onto a tow truck in an area where several stolen cars had previously been recovered. Simms (defendant) was placing boards under the vehicle and also standing close to a jack. After Captain Amady confirmed that the Jetta was a stolen vehicle, he charged Simms with tampering with a vehicle under District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) § 1105.2(a). Linda Hancock, who was present when Simms was arrested, testified that Simms was helping her locate a replacement grill and fender for her own Jetta. Hancock testified that she thought the vehicle had been abandoned. Simms testified that he told Hancock he had noticed a Jetta with broken windows that had been in the same location for three weeks to a month. Simms told Hancock the vehicle was in bad condition and that, although he did not know whether the vehicle was stolen or abandoned, he suspected it was abandoned. A hearing commissioner found Simms liable for tampering with a vehicle. The commissioner concluded that the mistake-of-fact defense was unavailable to Simms. Further, even if it were available, Simms was still guilty of tampering. The trial judge affirmed. Simms appealed on the ground that the hearing commissioner erred by refusing to consider Simm’s defenses of abandonment and mistake of fact.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rogers, C.J.)

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