Commonwealth v. LittlesAnnotate this Case
The designation of prima facie evidence in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, 37 - pursuant to which an individual commits larceny if, with the intent to defraud, he obtains goods or services in exchange for a check that the individual wrote knowing there were insufficient funds in the account from which the check draws - and the instruction stemming from the statute are unconstitutional.
Defendant appealed his conviction of four counts of larceny by uttering a false check, arguing that the prima facie designation in the statute and the related instruction are constitutionally infirm because an individual’s failure to pay a check within two days of notice of dishonor does not have a sufficiently logical connection to the individual’s knowledge of insufficient funds or intent to defraud at the time the check was written. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with Defendant but nonetheless affirmed his convictions because the instructional error in this case was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.