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Criminal Law No. 1840-02, 7/2/2003. Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: After the appellant accepted two checks as payment for his auto theft and car storage insurance claims, he was charged with theft for making a fraudulent insurance claim. The court of appeals reversed the appellant’s conviction, holding that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove the value of the two checks because the state did not show that “the drawer of the check had sufficient funds to cover the check at the time the [defendant] came into possession of the check.” This court granted review to determine what evidence suffices to prove the value of checks in a theft case. HOLDING: Reversed and remanded. Regardless of whether a check is viewed as evidence of a debt or not, the vast majority of American jurisdictions hold that the value of a check, in the absence of proof to show a lesser value, is measured by what the owner of the check could expect to receive for the check at the time of the theft, i.e., the check’s face value. The majority view is based upon the notion that the amount written upon the face of a signed check is competent evidence of its value. Under Texas Business and Commerce Code �3.104, checks are drafts payable on demand and drawn on a bank. Checks are negotiable instruments and they play an important role in Texas, American, and international commercial transactions, serving, to a considerable degree, as a cash equivalent. As the Colorado Supreme Court stated: “In the overwhelming majority of ordinary commercial transactions, the drawee bank will pay the face amount of the instrument, or the drawer will make good the instrument.” People v. Marques, 520 P.2d 113 (Colo. 1974) (en banc). Indeed, shoppers and shopkeepers regularly and routinely rely on the promises and liabilities contained on the face of checks, and they conduct their commercial affairs accordingly. Normally, a bank is solvent and will pay the face amount of a check drawn upon its customers’ accounts. Normally, the drawer of a check has sufficient funds in his bank account to cover the amount of his signed checks. Thus, normally, the face amount of a check that is drawn and signed by a person or a corporate representative is prima facieevidence of the value of that check. Accordingly, the court holds that the face amount of a check is presumptive evidence of its value. Of course, there are exceptions and unusual cases in which evidence rebuts that presumption and shows that the bank is, in fact, not solvent, that the drawer does not have sufficient funds to cover the check, or that there is some other fact which negates, lessens, or perhaps even increases the face value of the check. Thus, a prima facieshowing of value by proof of the face amount of a signed check may be rebutted with other evidence. However, assuming that no evidence is produced to rebut the logical inference that the payee was entitled to receive the face value of the check, the amount written on the check is sufficient evidence to show its value. Because this court has not always explained when it was following the rule of thumb that the face value of a check is prima facieevidence of its value versus when it was dealing with an “unusual” situation in which other evidence rebutted any prima facieshowing, Texas courts of appeals have also split in their discussions of how to value a check. But Texas is not a “rogue” or “minority” state in commercial transactions or in the valuation of negotiable instruments. It has followed and does follow the majority rule absent special circumstances. Thus, a check is a “document that represents or embodies value” and checks embody, in the all but the exceptional cases, a value equivalent to what is written on their faces. Accordingly, the court holds that the face amount of the instrument is presumptive evidence of its value. Assuming that no evidence is produced to rebut the logical inference that the payee was entitled to receive the face amount of the check, it is sufficient evidence of value to show the face amount of the check. OPINION: Cochran, J.; Meyers, Price, Womack, Johnson and Holcomb, JJ., join. CONCURRENCE: Keller, P.J.; Keasler and Hervey, JJ., join. “Instead of developing an intricate set of rules for determining a check’s value, we should recognize what our economic system generally presupposes: the face value of the check is the value of the check. I would overrule cases holding to the contrary.”

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