Caldwell v. CommonwealthAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of defrauding a hotel restaurant when she obtained food from the restaurant without paying, holding that a rational trier of fact could not have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Defendant was convicted of violating Va. Code 18.2-188(b)(2), which makes it unlawful for any person who "without paying therefor, and with the intent to cheat or defraud the owner or keeper to...obtain food from a restaurant or other eating house." On appeal, Defendant argued that the plain language of section 18.2-188(b)(2) requires proof of specific intent to defraud at the time the benefit is received and that the Commonwealth's evidence was insufficient to prove she possessed the intent to defraud at the time she obtained the meal. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 18.2-188(b)(2) required proof that Defendant had the intent to cheat or defraud the hotel restaurant at the time she gained possession of the food; and (2) the trial court did not find the essential element of specific intent beyond a reasonable doubt - that Defendant possessed the intent to cheat or defraud the hotel restaurant at the time she obtained the food.