Supreme Court of Hawaii
948 P.2d 1048 (Haw. 1997)
Eryck Bautista (defendant) went to a Maui Toyota dealership to buy a new truck. After agreeing on the final price, Bautista wrote a check to the dealership for $29,865.83. Maui Toyota did not call Bautista’s bank to ensure that the check would be covered by Bautista’s account. Bautista left the dealership with the vehicle. Three days later, Maui Toyota learned that Bautista’s check had bounced. A salesperson for Maui Toyota informed Bautista that the check had not cleared and told Bautista to return the truck. Bautista returned the truck and told Maui Toyota that he was trying to secure a loan to pay for the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Maui Toyota called the police, and Bautista was charged with first-degree theft of the vehicle. The prosecution was required to establish that Bautista intended to deprive Maui Toyota of property with a value of more than $20,000. Evidence at trial showed that Bautista had closed his account over five months before actually writing the check and that the highest balance ever recorded in the account was only $200. Evidence also showed that Bautista had provided his correct name and address in all interactions with Toyota. Toyota’s finance manager testified that the actual loss suffered by Maui Toyota could not be determined in the case for various reasons that made the sale complex. Two witnesses also testified that, after the attempt to purchase from Maui Toyota, Bautista went to two other dealerships and similarly purchased cars with bad checks written on closed accounts, returning the vehicles as soon as the dealerships found out that the checks had not cleared. Bautista was convicted and appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Nakayama, J.)
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