Commonwealth v. Davis

The crime of aiding in unlawfully obtaining documents from the Department of Motor Vehicles when not entitled thereto under Code § 46.2-105.2(B) contains an implied mens rea element.

In contrast to § 46.2-105.2(A)’s strict liability, it’s logical to apply the common law meaning of “aid” to a defendant charged under subsection (B). If an “aider” under subsection (B) were to be held strictly liable, ridiculous results might ensue. For example, an actor who simply assists another — such as by filling out paperwork on the principal’s behalf — could be held liable without any knowledge he assisted with a criminal venture.

Thus, the court holds that, to be liable under Code § 46.2-105.2(B), a defendant must knowingly aid another person obtain the listed documents with the knowledge the principal has not satisfied all legal and procedural DMV requirements or is otherwise not legally entitled to the document obtained. The court improperly instructed the jury to the contrary and, accordingly, grants the defendant’s motion to set aside the verdict.

Commonwealth v. Davis, No. FE17-1514, Jan. 22, 2019. Fairfax (Oblon).



Categories: Virginia Circuit Courts

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