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Commonwealth v. LeBlanc

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Franklin

October 28, 2016

COMMONWEALTH
v.
RANDY A. LeBLANC.

          Heard: September 8, 2016.

         Complaint received and sworn to in the Orange Division of the District Court Department on May 3, 2013. The case was heard by David S. Ross, J.

         After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.

          Leslie H. Powers for the defendant.

          Thomas H. Townsend, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Botsford, Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.

          BUDD, J.

         Following a jury-waived trial in the Orange Division of the District Court Department in March, 2014, the defendant, Randy A. LeBlanc, was found guilty of knowingly causing damage to another automobile in a private driveway and leaving without identifying himself to the owner under G. L. c. 90, § 24 (2) (a.) -[1] He appealed, and the Appeals Court affirmed the conviction in a memorandum and order issued pursuant to its rule 1:28. Commonwealth v. LeBlanc, 88 Mass.App.Ct. 1112 (2015). We granted further appellate review to determine whether the prohibition set forth in § 24 (2) (a.) against leaving the scene after causing property damage without providing identification includes as an element of the crime that the accident causing the damage occurred on a public way.[2]We conclude that it does not and affirm the defendant's conviction.

         Background.

         The trial evidence would permit the following facts to be found. In February, 2013, a friend of the defendant telephoned him to ask for a ride to a nearby convenience store. The defendant arrived in his pickup truck at the home where the friend was staying and pulled into the driveway where the homeowner's Chevrolet Cavalier automobile was already parked. The friend entered the truck and the two men left. Upon their return, the defendant backed his truck into the driveway. When the friend got out of the truck, he noticed that the Cavalier's hood was "pushed up" and that it had been pushed back into a trailer. The friend waved his arms to signal to the defendant, but the defendant "just left." The defendant later admitted to the friend and to an investigating police officer that he had accidentally hit the Cavalier.

         Discussion.

         1. Statutory interpretation.

         We begin with the plain language of the statute. International Fid. Ins. Co. v. Wilson, 387 Mass. 841, 853 (1983). Clear and unambiguous language is conclusive as to legislative intent. Commissioner of Correction v. Superior Court Dep't of the Trial Court for the County of Worcester, 446 Mass. 123, 124 (2006) . General Laws c. 90, § 24 (2) (a.), provides in part:

"[1] Whoever upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, operates a motor vehicle recklessly, or operates such a vehicle negligently so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered, or upon a bet or wager or in a race, or [2] whoever operates a motor vehicle for the purpose of making a record and thereby violates any provision of [G. L. c. 90, § 17, ] or any regulation under [G. L. c. 90, § 18], or [3] whoever without stopping and making known his name, residence and the register number of his motor vehicle goes away after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury to any other vehicle or property, or [4] whoever loans or knowingly permits his license or learner's permit to operate motor vehicles to be used by any person, or [5] whoever makes false statements in an application for such a license or learner's permit, or [6] whoever knowingly makes any false statement in an application for registration of a motor vehicle or [7] whoever while operating a motor vehicle in violation of [G. L. c. 90, ยง] 8M, 12A or 13B, such violation proved beyond a reasonable doubt, is the proximate cause of injury to any other person, vehicle or property by operating said motor vehicle negligently so that the lives or safety of the public might be ...

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