Sunday, November 17, 2013

People v. Kanan case brief

People v. Kanan case brief summary
526 P.2d 1339 (1974)

Defendant sought review of a decision from the District Court of Jefferson County (Colorado), which convicted him of passing short checks, a felony under the Short Check Statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 40-14-20(6) (1967 Perm. Supp.).

Defendant was convicted of passing short checks for writing three separate checks to a retailer that were returned with the notation that defendant's account was closed for insufficient funds. There was conflicting evidence at defendant's trial as to whether he had notice that his checking account was overdrawn.


  • On appeal, the court reversed and remanded the action for a new trial. 
  • The court held that the trial court erred in giving a jury instruction on the presumption that a check drawn and delivered by a person carried a representation that the person knew the status of his account and that sufficient funds were available to pay the check. 
  • The court held that the presumption in the instruction improperly dispensed with the State's obligation under the Short Check Statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 40-14-20(6) (1967 Perm. Supp.), to prove knowledge of insufficient funds and reversed the burden of proof by forcing defendant to meet and rebut a presumption that he had knowledge of the state of his account. 
  • The court also held that the trial court improperly instructed the jury by eliminating the specific intent element of the crime.

The court reversed defendant's conviction of passing short checks and remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

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