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Law School Case Brief

People v. Stark - 26 Cal. App. 4th 1179, 31 Cal. Rptr. 2d 887 (1994)

Rule:

As a general rule when the definition of a crime consists of only the description of a particular act, without reference to intent to do a further act or achieve a future consequence, the question is whether the defendant intended to do the proscribed act. This intention is deemed to be a general criminal intent. When the definition refers to defendant's intent to do some further act or achieve some additional consequence, the crime is deemed to be one of specific intent.

Facts:

Defendant was convicted of willful diversion of construction funds under the California Penal Code. Defendant testified, admitting that he used money received from plaintiffs for the completion of a medical building project to defray costs on some of his other jobs. However, he claimed to have intended to pay the money back. A jury convicted defendant and found the taking exceeded the required statutory amount under the law. Defendant appealed.

Issue:

Is the conviction of defendant for willful diversion of funds proper even in the absence of specific intent to commit the offense?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed defendant's conviction of willful diversion of construction funds because the statute governing the crime only required general, not specific intent, and the evidence supported the superior court's finding. Therefore, defendant's conviction in spite of his testimony was proper.

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