Lapp v. State

In Lapp v. State, 2004 WY 142, 100 P.3d 862 (Wyo. 2004), the defendant asserted that the district court committed plain error when it failed to provide a definition instruction of "intent to defraud." The Court affirmed the conviction and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to provide the challenged jury instruction. The Court stated: "In the context of the instructions as a whole, we conclude the term "intent to defraud" does not have a technical meaning so different from its ordinary meaning as to require an instruction defining it. Particularly in the context of the evidence presented here, the words "intent" and "defraud" are self-explanatory. Even if they were not, the instructions given, considered together, adequately informed the jurors what they needed to find to support a guilty verdict. We conclude no violation of a clear and unequivocal rule of law was committed, and there was no plain error." In Lapp, the Court reiterated that "the decision to give or refuse an instruction on the definition of a term used in describing an element of an offense was within the latitude afforded to the district court to tailor the instructions to the circumstances of the case." The Court also recognized that it is not error to provide a definition instruction in an appropriate case.